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Kaspersky moves to build transparency in security

A day after the Paris Call for trust in cyberspace, Kaspersky Lab unveiled its first Transparency Centre in Zurich

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In a further move to allay fears in the West of possible security compromises due to its Russian origin, Kaspersky Lab has announced that malicious and suspicious files shared by users of Kaspersky Lab products in Europe will start to be processed in data centers in Zurich.

This initiates the first part of a relocation commitment made by the company in late 2017 under its Global Transparency Initiative. Kaspersky Lab says the move symbolises its determination to assure the integrity and trustworthiness of its products. It is accompanied by the opening of the company’s first Transparency Center, also in Zurich.

 The relocation of data processing is part of a major infrastructure move designed to increase the resilience of the company’s IT infrastructure to risks of data breaches and supply-chain attacks, and to further prove the trustworthiness of its products, services and internal processes.

The move comes a day after the Paris Call for trust and security in cyberspace unveiled at the Paris Peace Forum on November 12 by President Emmanuel Macron and Foreign Affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The Paris Call lays out several important principles and guidelines for international cybersecurity. In particular, it recognises the responsibilities of key private sector actors in improving trust, security and stability in cyberspace, and encourages initiatives aimed at strengthening the security of digital processes and products across the supply chain. It also promotes broad digital cooperation and a multi-stakeholder approach to build confidence, capacity and trust.

Kaspersky Lab says the call coincides with its own championing of international cooperation on cyber issues and the need to counter the risk of balkanisation.

The company said in a statement: “Online crime is borderless; and so must be the world’s response. We cannot fight back if we are isolated and fragmented. Shared intelligence and public-private partnerships, for instance through cooperation between national police forces and cybersecurity companies, are necessary to ensure stronger protection for all.

“The solution is also to become more transparent and to give stakeholders proof that they can trust cybersecurity. We have started already through our Global Transparency Initiative (GTI), a programme designed to build trust, accountability, assurance and resilience. Within the GTI framework, we are relocating some of our infrastructure to Switzerland – starting from November 13, 2018, when we begin to process suspicious and malicious files shared by users in Europe, in Zurich, and open the doors of our first Transparency Center in the city. More data and processes, and more regions, will follow.”

Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab, said today: “I’m very glad to see the wheels are turning to international cyberspace cooperation. The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace announced by the French authorities is a very positive shift given the atmosphere of growing mistrust that the cybersecurity industry is experiencing now. This Call recognises the responsibilities of leaders of the private sector in improving trust, security and stability in cyberspace.

“That’s exactly what our efforts have been focused on lately in many of our company’s initiatives – to become more transparent, to prove our trustworthiness, and, as we love to do, become pioneers of a new industry standard. We’ll undoubtedly continue to push for cooperation in the industry and open doors in cyberspace, and it’s great to feel supported in this mission!”

From November 13, threat-related data coming from European users will start to be processed in two datacenters. These provide world-class facilities in compliance with industry standards to ensure the highest levels of security.

The data, which users have actively chosen to share with Kaspersky Lab, includes suspicious or previously unknown malicious files and corresponding meta-data that the company’s products send to Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) for automated malware analysis.

Files comprise only part of the data processed by Kaspersky Lab technologies, yet the most important one. The relocation of other types of data processed by Kaspersky Lab products, consisting of several kinds of anonymised threat and usage statistics, is planned to be conducted during later phases of the Global Transparency Initiative.

Today also marks the opening of Kaspersky Lab’s first Transparency Center in Zurich, enabling authorised partners to access reviews of the company’s code, software updates and threat detection rules, along with other activities. Through the Transparency Center, Kaspersky Lab will provide governments and partners with information on its products and their security, including essential and important technical documentation, for external evaluation in a secure environment. These two major developments will be followed by the relocation of data processing for other regions and, in phase two, the move to Zurich of software assembly.

According to independent rankings, Switzerland is among the world’s top locations in terms of the number of secure internet servers available, and it has an international reputation as an innovative center for data processing and high quality IT infrastructure. Being in the heart of Europe and, at the same time, a non-EU member, it has established its own data privacy regulation that is guaranteed by the state’s constitution and federal laws. In addition, there are strict regulations on processing data requests received from authorities.

“Transparency is becoming the new normal for the IT industry– and for the cybersecurity industry in particular,” said the CEO. “We are proud to be on the front line of this process. As a technological company, we are focused on ensuring the best IT infrastructure for the security of our products and data, and the relocation of key parts of our infrastructure to Switzerland places them in one of the most secure locations in the world.”

Liv Minder, Investment Promotion Director at Switzerland Global Enterprise, said: “The settlement of Kaspersky’s Transparency Center in Switzerland underlines that our country has become a global centre for innovation and technology with a strong cyber security cluster, offering advanced and secure digital infrastructure within a strong framework of security and privacy that attracts ever more technology leaders.”

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Cape Town not so calm – if you’re a driver

Cape Town drivers lose on average 162 hours a year to traffic jams, so will need some tech and a few tips to stay calm

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Cape Town drivers lose, on average, 162 hours a year stuck in traffic jams, and the city is ranked 95th out of around 200 cities, across 38 countries surveyed globally, in terms of congestion issues.

That’s according to the latest INRIX 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard, which is an annual analysis of mobility and congestion trends. The study provides a data-rich evaluation of information collected during peak (slowest) travel times, and inter peak (fastest point between morning and afternoon commutes) travel times. Together they provide a holistic account of congestion throughout the day, delivering in-depth insights for vehicle drivers and policy-makers to make better decisions regarding urban travel and traffic health.

Of the further five South African cities surveyed:

  • Pretoria drivers lose, on average, 143 hours a year stuck in traffic jams, ranking as the 64thmost congested city
  • Johannesburg drivers lose an average of 119 hours annually, ranking 61st
  • Durban drivers lose 72 hours, ranking 141st
  • Port Elizabeth drivers lose 71 hours, ranking 75th
  • And Bloemfontein drivers lose 62 hours, ranking 165th

If these hours sound horrific, spare a thought for the poor drivers in Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá who lose, on average, a whopping 272 hours a year stuck in traffic jams!

On average, drivers’ commutes increase by roughly 30% during peak versus inter-peak hours. And the reality is that congestion issues aren’t going away anytime soon. Not here in SA, or anywhere else in the world. So what can we, as drivers, do to make the situation easier to cope with on our daily commute?

Change of mindset

Stressing about the unavoidable, the inevitable, and all the things that are out of our control – like congestion caused by accidents, faulty street lights, or bad weather – is a waste of energy. We should try finding ways of using that time in our cars more productively, to create a less tense, more positive experience. Learning to change our perspective about this challenging time, and associating it with something enjoyable, can drastically alter our reaction to and engagement with it. Rather than expending all our energy on futile anger and frustration, we can channel our focus on things that relax or energise us instead.

Just one more chapter

Being stuck in traffic usually aggravates us because it feels like a huge waste of valuable time. But like a wise man once said, time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. Listening to a podcast or audiobook can not only be entertaining, but also educational, which is a brilliant use of your time. Ifyou think of your car as a ‘learning lab’, a mobile university of sorts, and your time spent inside as away to exercise your brain and grow intellectually, you may even find yourself wishing for bad traffic so you have an excuse to carry on listening to your podcast or audiobook.

Tame your inner Hulk

Pulling up a playlist of your favourite, feel-good songs can do wonders to combat stress levels. Downbeat music has been proven to have a mellowing effect on drivers. Making a quick switch to downbeat music shows measurable physiological improvements, with drivers calming down much sooner, and making fewer driving mistakes. So the next time you feel your inner Hulk emerging, crank up the volume on your favourite tunes.

The power of ‘caromatherapy’

There are numerous studies on aromas and their impact on human emotion, behaviour, and performance. Researchers have found that peppermint can enhance mental and athletic performance and cognitive functioning, while cinnamon may improve tasks related to attentional processes and visual-motor response speed. A study from Kyoto University in Japan revealed that participants reported significantly lower hostility and depression scores, and felt more relaxed after awalk through a pine forest. It makes sense then, to incorporate some ‘caromatherapy’ into our lives. There are plenty of off-the-shelf car diffusers available, or you could add a few drops of essential oil to DIY felt air fresheners. Citrus scents like orange or lemon can provide a boost of energy, while rosemary can relieve stress and anxiety. Take care not to hang anything that might obstruct your field of vision though, and always make sure to test out essential oils at home first, in case a scent makes you dizzy or overly relaxed, which could affect driving focus.

Contemplate your navel

The mind is a powerful thing, and simply willing yourself to relax might be the most effective method of all. While we don’t recommend meditating while driving due to safety reasons, breathing exercises can help you stay focused and feeling calm. One useful practice is the one-to-one technique – breathing in and out for the same count with the same intensity. Deep, measured breaths facilitate full oxygen exchange, helping to slow down the rate of your heartbeat and stabilise blood pressure, as opposed to shallow breathing, which doesn’t send enough air to the lowest part of your lungs, causing you to feel anxious and short of breath. Just always keep your eyes on the road, and take care to ensure you’re not so busy counting breaths that your concentration is compromised.

Not all those who wander are lost

Some of our best ideas come in those moments where we’re alone with our own thoughts, able to really reflect on the ideas we have without having something immediate that needs our attention. Allow your mind to wander, and do a little brainstorming. Alternatively, use the time to simply day dream. Remember, downtime is not dead time. It is both necessary, and important for your mental health. Use this time as an opportunity to take care of yourself.

In-built vehicle tech

“As we spend more and more time commuting, cars are being designed to accommodate longer periods behind the wheel,” says Kuda Takura, smart mobility specialist at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “Ford uses human-centric design to deliver vehicles that are inviting, accommodating, and intuitive. For example, our SYNCT infotainment system offers nifty, hands-free functions, like allowing drivers to listen to their texts, change music or climate settings, and make phone calls easily with voice control. Our range of driver-assist technologies, like Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and Semi-Auto Active Park Assist, are also designed to take some of the stress off city driving. If our lifestyle means that we might be spending more time in our cars than we do on holiday, then we should make sure we make the most of that time.”

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Vodacom exits Africa biz services

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Vodacom Group has sold Vodacom Business Africa’s operations in Nigeria, Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire to Andile Ngcaba’s Synergy Communications. The two entities are in the process of concluding the acquisitions, which are subject to the approval of the regulatory authorities within these markets.

Vodacom says the transaction supports the Group’s enterprise strategy in Africa, which has been refocused to grow and strengthen its core business. It will no longer directly service global enterprise customers in these three markets but will rather continue to operate as a pan African telecommunications networks provider through local relationships, like the one with Synergy Communications. 

This acquisition represents a significant milestone in Synergy Communication’s quest to be a leading provider of cloud and digitally based services in key markets across sub-Saharan Africa and provides key additional assets in its build out of a regional footprint. Synergy Communications currently has operations in Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique.

Andile Ngcaba, Chairman of Synergy Communications said: “This is an exciting landmark transaction for Synergy Communications, providing us with additional momentum in the delivery of our strategy as a pan-African enterprise digital Services Provider. Synergy Communications will partner with major global cloud providers and deliver platform-based services to both multi-nationals and local enterprises.”

Shameel Joosub, CEO of Vodacom Group, said: “Vodacom has a clear vision for strengthening our position as a leading pan-African business and will work with local service providers like Synergy Communications to grow in these markets. Crucially, Vodacom is not exiting any of the territories related to this transaction and remains focused on continuing to deliver exceptional service to our global and multinational clients in these markets through long-term commercial agreements. 

“To support the sustainable growth of pan African digital economies and building connected societies, Vodacom will, via local service providers, continue to service clients in each market. We seek to leverage the collective strengths of Vodacom and Synergy Communications to meet the changing requirements of clients across each of these markets.”

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