Many companies use SIMs for machine-to-machine communication, but these cards are often stolen, leaving the business with huge bills at the end of the month. HEIN KOEN provides some tips on how to keep them safe.
For companies who have come to rely on SIM cards for machine-to-machine communication and other enterprise-level solutions, fraud can be crippling. Fortunately, there are several preventative measures decision-makers can take to minimise the risk.
Any company with a sizeable SIM base has experienced fraud in some way – it is one of those things that often gets hidden in the plethora of bills a company receives. We have seen a few cases each totalling well over a R1-million. To say that SIM fraud can put a small company out of business is not an exaggeration.
There are mainly two types of SIM abuse.
The first is spend abuse. As the name suggests, this is when too much money is spent on a SIM card. This can either happen as a result of a device becoming faulty or a person using too much data. Often, this is written off as legitimate spend incurred during the course of business.
The second, and more concerning one, is when SIMs are stolen or compromised. These SIMs, typically found in terminals or point-of-sale devices, are then used for WASP-type services like buying airtime and data using the corporate account. And with syndicates using sophisticated methods to do this, the financial implications on a business can quickly become serious.
So what are some of the steps one can take to help combat SIM card fraud in the organisation?
Check your SIM
As a first step, the business needs to ensure that the correct SIM is in a device.
In other words, the SIM has to be risk managed. Ideally, companies should not use open-ended post-paid SIMs but opt to go the prepaid route. This massively reduces the potential for bill shock.
With prepaid SIMs, companies can manage their costs in real-time. After all, a prepaid SIM can only use the amount of airtime or data loaded on to it. This provides decision-makers with a much more efficient way of managing the associated costs. There is also no way that out of bundle rates, especially when it comes to mobile data, escalate out of control.
Use management tools
Companies should also evaluate whether they have the tools in place to manage their SIM cards effectively. There are online tools available to take the hassle out of managing prepaid SIMs and devices in real time.
However, working with a trusted service provider who has the expertise and know-how to do it means an organisation can focus on meeting its core business deliverables.
Keep devices locked
Another very useful measure to take is for decision-makers to lock down their devices in the field. There is software that can do this, either on a firmware or device level.
With a mobile workforce using tablets and smartphones, such software can be used to minimise risk even further.
One of the best things about going the prepaid route is that businesses need not worry about performing SIM swaps when devices are lost. It is just a case of inserting a new prepaid SIM into the device as the SIM is not linked to a specific account.
At the end of the day, it can cost a lot of money when falling prey to SIM fraud and abuse. By implementing some of these proactive measures, companies can mitigate some risks and monthly bill shocks.
* Hein Koen, co-founder of Flickswitch
Money talks and electronic gaming evolves
Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.
The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.
The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games.
It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.
MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.
“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”
New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.
“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”
Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.
Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.
This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.
What is blockchain?
A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.
A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.
Each block stores:
– A number of valid records or transactions.
– Information referring to that block.
– A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.
Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.
As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.
How is blockchain so secure?
Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.
Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.
In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.
What else can blockchain be used for?
Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.
Use of blockchain in healthcare
Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.
Use of blockchain for documents
Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.
Other blockchain uses
This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.
Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.
Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.