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Cyber security must go beyond the traditional

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The world is engaged in an invisible war, with honest businesses at one end and cybercriminals at the other. Cyber security is no longer just a concern, but is inevitable, writes NITHEN NAIDOO, CIO of Snode

Cybersecurity is no longer just a pressing concern for the IT industry, it is a very real issue that every business has to contend with. Put plainly, a cyberattack is not just likely, it’s inevitable.

What’s more, many organisations’ security can already have been compromised, without them necessarily knowing even it. Today’s security landscape is no longer defined by the known and familiar attack vectors, responded to by the traditional defences of installing a firewall, antivirus solutions and constantly updated threat signatures. Rather, companies are being attacked in ways they cannot predict and often, don’t even detect using traditional approaches to cybersecurity.

Furthermore, companies are understandably reluctant to share details of how and when their security has been compromised, for fear of their reputations being damaged. This is exacerbated by the fact that they are facing advanced, highly motivated, and extremely well organised attackers, who are globally dispersed and often part of a much larger crime syndicate. This gives cybercriminals a structural advantage, making it all the more likely that they will continue to win the battles they wage.

However, with the explosion of information, we are now facing a situation where we have too much data and too little intelligence. To address all these concerns, Snode was designed to offer clients always-on intelligence solution, by concentrating on and examining the behaviour of data packets on a network. It is analogous to examining and focusing on what a person does inside your building, irrespective of their credentials. This is a far cry from stopping at whether or not they have a key to the front door, an approach taken by the familiar firewall approach to cybersecurity. To put it bluntly, if any organisation thinks having a firewall in place will protect them from any and all attacks, they are quite simply wrong.

The good news is that attacks can be pre-empted. Because solutions like Snode focus on behaviour, rather than accepting log entries, its intelligent approach to security can detect precursor signs that an attack is imminent, by identifying the profile of abnormal behaviour and acting accordingly.

However, it is critical that those fighting cyberattacks have a united front. That doesn’t mean that companies need to share their data or disclose when they have been attacked. One of the advantaged of Snode is that it automatically and anonymously shares analytics and insights gleaned from existing attacks, while learning the patterns behind criminals’ attempts to attack their network. This means that the more customers using an augmented intelligence solution, the stronger it becomes as a line of defence.

From a local perspective, it is worth noting that cyber attackers are turning their attention to countries like South Africa. Indeed, emerging such as Bangladesh, Vietnam, and South Africa are viewed as soft, and lucrative, targets by organised crime syndicates with highly advanced cyber capabilities. The fact that these are advanced economies that have not made the same kind of security investments as their developed nation counterparts make them a dream target for hackers.

To confirm this, you only need to look at the list of countries being targeted by the recent wave of SWIFT attacks which are plaguing the banking sectors.

Even as dire as the cybercrime situation may sound, it doesn’t mean that the fight against cybercrime is hopeless, but rather that businesses need to be considerably more intelligent about their security, and stand together, figuratively speaking, to defeat this scourge.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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