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How discarded tech endangers company security

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To keep up with technology and improve efficiencies, companies are constantly replacing outdated IT equipment. However, this creates a challenge as large amounts of excess electronics must be managed and disposed of properly.

The problem with IT asset disposal projects is the chain-of-custody of equipment. Often during audits, equipment is unaccounted for and untracked. The IT director is normally the first person to be accused but then the blame is shifted to the disposal vendor for taking an inaccurate inventory. Then finally, the truck driver is accused for stealing the computers on route to the recycling facility.

Xperien CEO Wale Arewa says securing sensitive data is a daunting task for any business. “Data security laws mandate that organisations implement adequate safeguards to ensure privacy protection of individuals. And the penalties for data breaches are tough.”

Unknowingly, employees often donate old IT equipment to charity organisations or schools that are in desperate need of computers. However, before doing so, they fail to ensure that the hard drives are erased properly. What employees view as a trivial act, is in fact a serious data security threat that could create massive liability for the company.

Most organisations take data security seriously and spend exorbitant amounts on IT security including firewalls, network monitoring, encryption, and end-point protection. Although they spend millions guarding against hackers, they often overlook one crucial element of data security – theft of the physical hard drives.

Arewa says many businesses now rely on expert assistance. “The fact that certified electronics recyclers are transporting retired IT assets to vendor facilities to be processed and sanitised can create a false sense of security that blinds executives to the biggest threats. First, there is still the possibility that assets can be lost or stolen in-transit.”

Chain-of-custody is the foundation for indemnification and transfer of liability. It only takes a single missing item to cause a breach. Only a careful, objective examination of tracking data can confirm chain-of-custody — or reveal potential liability.

Company executives must prevent employees from taking retired computers and by acknowledging the risks and inherent conflicts-of-interest surrounding retired assets, will result in more effective ITAD policies and adequate safeguards.

Applying established incident-response procedures to the process of ITAD can help raise awareness of unappreciated vulnerabilities. More importantly, educating senior management about the risks will hopefully secure the resources needed to prevent an ITAD-related breach.

“Treating IT asset disposal as a reverse procurement process will deter insider theft,” he says.

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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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