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Fighting crime you can’s see

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The rapid digitalisation of the world’s economy brings with it the potential for economic crime to cripple businesses in highly disruptive and devastating ways.

A recent 2018 PwC Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey found that a quarter of South African businesses believe that cybercrime will be the most disruptive economic crime to affect their organisations in the next two years. This statistic becomes even more startling when one considers that according to the findings of the PwC report, South Africa has the dubious honour of having the highest level of reported economic crime in the world, with a staggering 77% of companies being affected.

Junaid Amra, Partner in PwC’s Forensic Services Division, says that when it comes to combating fraud and economic crime, technology can become a double-edged sword. “In the never-ending efforts to modernise both the business and the fraud-detecting capabilities of the business, technology can become a business protector, but also a threat if the risks associated with technology deployment are not properly assessed,” he says.

He points out a key finding in the global survey which says technology has become so pervasive across every business process that how a company chooses to leverage this technology to combat crime is central to the customer experience. Amra further stated, “Over a fifth of all customers said business technology to predict fraud was producing too many false positives and these false alarms become invasive for the customer.”

The survey found that companies are finding it increasingly expensive to invest in technology. “This being said, South Africa, and Africa in general, are investing in advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence at a faster rate than the rest of the world. This may be to play catch-up with the rest of the world in efforts to combat economic crime, but it also signals the seriousness with which cybercrime is being approached.”

In addition to the customer experience being directly affected by the use of technology, criminals can and do use the company’s own technology to commit their crimes.

With new digital products, criminals are given new attack vectors, making the job of stopping these attacks so much harder. “In the past, companies may well have used good old-fashioned business-to-business processes to bring a product to market – resellers, distributors and retailers. However, technology has meant that there are innovative business-to-consumer platforms providing a wider attack surface for cyber criminals,” explains Amra.

In 2017, a single ransomware attack crippled the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, not only threatening lives, but also crippling hundreds of thousands of computers around the world. This is just one example from many that can be cited. The potential for harm is frightening as the technical sophistication of external fraudsters and attack surfaces within businesses continue to grow side by side.

It is for this reason, says Amra, that more than a quarter of respondents to the survey felt that cyber criminals would attack them in the next two years.

Amra concludes that the survey found that the responsibility of dealing with economic crime rests with the C-suite. Based on incidents we’ve assisted clients with organisations are falling into two categories, those who have executive-led initiatives and those who are crisis driven i.e. moving from one crisis to the next without a clear cybersecurity strategy supported by the C-suite. It goes without saying that organisations with executive-led initiatives are faring much better when faced with cyber attacks.  From a steering, strategic and reputational point of view, business leaders such as the CEO are finding that the buck stops with them in the fight against cyber criminals.

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Face App grabs SA attention

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South Africans generated more than 100 000 search queries for “Face App” on Wednesday, while only generating 50 000 for “Mandela Day”. The Internet wentcrazy over the two-year-old app, which uses artificial intelligence to create a rendering of what users might look like in a few decades. Face App went viral as users posted their aged likenesses on social media in the #faceappchallenge. Privacy experts, however, warned that the app (made in Russia) may pose a threat to users’ privacy as it stores photos on its servers, with US Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, appealing to the FBI to investigate the app. 

In other top searches on Google this week, “Johnny Clegg” garnered more than 500 000 search queries on Tuesday as the news of his passing broke. The ‘White Zulu’ of Juluka and Savuka fame was an internationally acclaimed musician who was also an important figure in the fight against apartheid. Tributes to Clegg have been flooding media and social media over the past couple of days. Clegg succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 66.

More than 200 000 search queries were generated for “Mark Batchelor” on Monday after the former soccer star was brutally gunned down outside his Olivedale home in Gauteng. Investigations into the shooting are still ongoing. Batchelor played for Orlando Pirates, Wits University, Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns, Moroka Swallows and Bafana Bafana. 

“Jacob Zuma” also garnered more than 100 000 search queries on Monday as he made his first, much-anticipated appearance in front of the Zondo Commission on state capture. 

On Sunday “Macdonald Ndou” picked up more than 10 000 search queries after reports of theMuvhango actor’s arrest made the rounds. Ndou was held on various charges including extortion and kidnapping. The Hawks have reportedly provisionally withdrawn charges against the TV star, but a spokesperson said the decision to withdraw does not mean the charges will not be reinstated.

“Serena Williams” garnered more than 50 000 searches on Saturday as the tennis superstar suffered a 6-2, 6-2 defeat against Simona Halep in a Wimbledon final that lasted just 56 minutes. Williams later told Agence France Presse, “She [Halep] played out of her mind” and “I was like a deer in headlights”.

Last Friday, South Africans produced more than 20 000 search queries for “Duduzane Zuma” as the Randburg Magistrates Court found the former first son not guilty of a charge of culpable homicide. In February 2014, Zuma was involved in a car crash that took the life of Phumzile Dube when his vehicle crashed into the taxi she was travelling in.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year, worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40 

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Homemation creates comfort through smart homes

Home automation is more than just turning the lights on and off, Homemation’s Gedaliah Tobias tells BRYAN TURNER

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The world is taking interior design notes from the Danish, in a style of living called hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). Its meaning varies from person to person: some see hygge as a warm fire on a cold winter’s night, others see it as a cup of hot coffee in the morning. The amount of “good feelings” one gets from these relaxing activities depends on what one values as indulgent.

But how does technology fit into this “art of feeling good”?

We asked Homemation marketing manager Gedaliah Tobias to take us through a fully automated home of the future and show us how automation creates comfort and good feelings.

“The house is powered by Control4, which you can think of as the brain of the smart home,” says Tobias. “It controls everything from the aircon to smart vacuum cleaners.”

The home of the future is secured by a connected lock. It acts like other locks with keypads and includes a key in the event of a power interruption. The keypad is especially useful to those who want to provide temporary access to visitors, staff, or simply kids who might lose their parents’ house keys.

“The keypad is especially useful for temporary access,” says Tobias. “For example, if you have a garden service that needs to use the home for the day, they can be given a code that only turns off the perimeter alarm beams in the garden for the day and time. If that code is used outside of the day and time range, users can set up alerts for their armed response to be alerted. This type of smart access boosts security.”

Once inside, one is greeted with a “scene” – a type of recipe for electronic success. The scene starts by turning on the lights, then by alerting the user to disarm the alarm. After the alarm is disarmed, the user can start another more complicated scene.

“Users can request customised scene buttons,” says Tobias. “For example, if I press the ‘Dinner call’ scene, the lights start to flash in the bedroom, there’s an announcement from the smart speakers, the blinds start to come down, the lighting is shifted to the dinner table. Shifting focus with lighting creates a mood to bring the house together for dinner.”

Homemation creates these customised scene buttons to enable users to control their homes without having to use another device. In addition to scene buttons, there are several ways to control the smart home.

 “Everything in the smart home is controllable from your phone, the touchscreens around the house, the TV, and the dedicated remote control. Everyone is different, so having multiple ways to control the house is a huge value add.”

We ask Tobias where Homemation recommends non-smart home users should start on their smart home journey.

“Before anything, the Control4 infrastructure needs to be set up. This involves a lot of communications and electrical cabling to be run to different areas of the home to enable connectivity throughout the home. After the infrastructure is set up, the system is ready for smart home devices, like lighting and sound.”

“For new smart home users, the best bang for their buck would be to start with lighting once the infrastructure is set up. Taking it one step at a time is wise.”

•    For more information, visit https://www.homemation.co.za/

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