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How to protect digital identity

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Identity theft is no longer something out of the movies – it’s a common occurrence in South Africa. There are however a few precautions you can take to prevent yourself from becoming a victim, says RIAAN BADENHORST, MD of Kaspersky Lab Africa.

Having your identity stolen by a cyber-criminal might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but it is a very real risk for any connected South African. People have become comfortable with doing virtually anything online, but few spare a thought to what would happen if their digital identity gets compromised.

Despite the moral objections that exist, the recent Ashley Madison hack has put the spotlight on the need to protect personal data. But, the sad reality is that even this has not had a significant effect with many people still not taking the necessary precautions. When it comes to securing your personal data in a digital world, you can never be too careful.

Identity theft goes hand-in-hand with phishing scams. While most email clients have spam filters built-in, this does not mean you are completely protected against fraudulent emails. People need to be cognisant that most reputable companies will not request personal identifiable information or account details via email. This includes your bank, health care provider, and even online shopping sites. As a result, never open attachments in these emails and do not click on any links embedded in the message. This is a sure-fire way you will fall prey to identity theft.

With this in mind, it pays to be aware of the popular scams doing the rounds. Sure, we can joke about that inheritance you are supposed to be getting from an African royal family member, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are ever unsure about an email, contact the institution from where it claims to come from. Most South African financial institutions and even mobile operators have scam lines designed to keep you informed.

Another vital aspect of protecting your online identity is using strong passwords. These are not the names of your pets or your date of birth. In fact, it is advisable to avoid using any word that can be found in a dictionary. You should create a unique password for each site you have a login for that, ideally, and include long combinations of letters, numerals, and non-alphanumeric symbols. It is also important to change your passwords often.

Building on from this, never store your financial data on any of the sites you use. There is no disputing the convenience of buying with the click of a button and not completing the same credit card forms every time. But it is really worth the extra minute it takes to fill in the form and not risk compromising your financial data.

Despite taking all these measures, no person can be completely vigilant all the time across all devices. For this reason, it is always a good idea to have some form of cyber-security solution installed. Ideally, such a solution would need to work across devices and cater for everything from anti-virus protection to Internet security and email safety. Some might even have a Privacy Cleaner or similar data scrubbing tool that effectively wipes your personal data from any device.

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Rain, Telkom Mobile, lead in affordable data

A new report by the telecoms regulator in South Africa reveal the true consumer champions in mobile data costs

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The latest bi-annual tariff analysis report produced by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) reveals that Telkom Mobile data costs for bundles are two-thirds lower than those of Vodacom and MTN. On the other hand, Rain is half the price again of Telkom. 

The report focuses on the 163 tariff notifications lodged with ICASA during the period 1 July 2018 to 31 December 2018.

“It seeks to ensure that there is retail price transparency within the electronic communications sector, the purpose of which is to enable consumers to make an informed choice, in terms of tariff plan preferences and/or preferred service providers based on their different offerings,” said Icasa.

ICASA says it observed the competitiveness between licensees in terms of the number of promotions that were on offer in the market, with 31 promotions launched during the period. 

The report shows that MTN and Vodacom charge the same prices for a 1GB and a 3GB data bundle at R149 and R299 respectively.  On the other hand, Telkom Mobile charges (for similar-sized data bundles) R100 (1GB) and R201 (3GB). Cell C discontinued its 1GB bundle, which was replaced with a 1.5GB bundle offered at the same price as the replaced 1GB data bundle at R149. 

Rain’s “One Plan Package” prepaid mobile data offering of R50 for a 1GB bundle remains the most affordable when compared to the offers from other MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) and MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators).  

“This development should have a positive impact on customers’ pockets as they are paying less compared to similar data bundles and increases choice,” said Icasa.

The report also revealed that the cost of out-of-bundle data had halved at both MTN and Vodacom, from 99c per Megabyte a year ago to 49c per Megabyte in the first quarter of this year. This was still two thirds more expensive than Telkom Mobile, which has charged 29c per Megabyte throughout this period (see graph below).

Meanwhile, from having positioned itself as consumer champion in recent years, Cell C has fallen on hard times, image-wise: it is by far the most expensive mobile network for out-of-bundle data, at R1.10 per Megabyte. Its prices have not budged in the past year.

The report highlights the disparities between the haves and have-nots in the dramatically plummeting cost of data per Megabyte as one buys bigger and bigger bundles on a 30-day basis (see graph below).

For 20 Gigabyte bundles, all mobile operators are in effect charging 4c per Megabyte. Only at that level do costs come in at under Rain’s standard tariffs regardless of use.

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Qualcomm wins 5G as Apple and Intel cave in

A flurry of announcements from three major tech players ushered in a new mobile chip landscape, wrItes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Last week’s shock announcement by Intel that it was canning its 5G modem business leaves the American market wide open to Qualcomm, in the wake of the latter winning a bruising patent war with Apple.

Intel Corporation announced its intention to “exit the 5G smartphone modem business and complete an assessment of the opportunities for 4G and 5G modems in PCs, internet of things devices and other data-centric devices”.

Intel said it would also continue to invest in its 5G network infrastructure business, sharpening its focus on a market expected to be dominated by Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson.

Intel said it would continue to meet current customer commitments for its existing 4G smartphone modem product line, but did not expect to launch 5G modem products in the smartphone space, including those originally planned for launches in 2020. In other words, it would no longer be supplying chips for iPhones and iPads in competition with Qualcomm.

“We are very excited about the opportunity in 5G and the ‘cloudification’ of the network, but in the smartphone modem business it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan. “5G continues to be a strategic priority across Intel, and our team has developed a valuable portfolio of wireless products and intellectual property. We are assessing our options to realise the value we have created, including the opportunities in a wide variety of data-centric platforms and devices in a 5G world.”

The news came immediately after Qualcomm and Apple issued a joint announced of an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide. The settlement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm, along with a six-year license agreement, and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.

Apple had previously accused Qualcomm of abusing its dominant position in modem chips for smartphones and charging excessive license fees. It ordered its contract manufacturers, first, to stop paying Qualcomm for the chips, and then to stop using the chips altogether, turning instead to Intel.
With Apple paying up and Intel pulling out, Qualcomm is suddenly in the pound seats. It shares hit their highest levels in five years after the announcements.

Qualcomm said in a statement: “As we lead the world to 5G, we envision this next big change in cellular technology spurring a new era of intelligent, connected devices and enabling new opportunities in connected cars, remote delivery of health care services, and the IoT — including smart cities, smart homes, and wearables. Qualcomm Incorporated includes our licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of our patent portfolio.”

Meanwhile, Strategy Analytics released a report on the same day that showed Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia will lead the market in core 5G infrastructure, namely Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment, by 2023 as the 5G market takes off. Huawei is expected to have the edge as a result of the vast scale of the early 5G market in China and its long term steady investment in R&D. According to a report entitled “Comparison and 2023 5G Global Market Potential for leading 5G RAN Vendors – Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia”, two outliers, Samsung and ZTE, are expected to expand their global presence alongside emerging vendors as competition heats up.

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