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Peril of travel Wi-fi

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The urge to go online the moment they  reach foreign soil sees a high proportion of people connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks, putting their personal data at risk, according to a study by Kaspersky Lab.

The research, which polled 11,850 people from across the world, found that cybercrime is commonplace when abroad. However, as ever more essential travel information – from maps and hotel confirmations to check-in details and boarding passes – is stored online, international travelers often have no choice but to connect upon arrival. Many will be keen to use Wi-Fi rather than risk incurring roaming charges, despite the fact that doing so will expose them to risk.

On leaving the airport, the research showed that over half of South African travelers (55%) are already online, with most (81%) connecting in order to let family and loved ones know they have arrived safely, and 38% saying they connect mainly to download travel information. Pressure from work (42%) is also a strong factor, as is the desire to get up to speed on social media (38%). 42% of South African travelers state, simply, that it is instinctive to go online as soon as possible.

We are so used to being connected when we are at home, that when we are abroad, we hardly give a second thought to where we connect, how we connect or who might be ‘listening’ in. 77% connect to unsecured, free-to-use public access Wi-Fi networks in airport terminals, hotels, cafes or restaurants.

But away from home, and trusted networks, the lack of regard for network security plays into the hands of cybercriminals. 17% of South African travelers have been a victim of cybercrime while away from home, compared to 8% of those who have faced real-life crime.

This is not surprising if you consider the fact that our digital habits barely change while we’re abroad, even though we may be more exposed to unsecure public networks. More than  half of the survey’s respondents say they bank (72%) and shop (63%) online over Wi-Fi while abroad.

Eugene Kaspersky, chairman and CEO of Kaspersky Lab, said: “I travel a lot. My business schedule is all about meetings, conferences and negotiations right around the globe. More than 100 flights a year is the norm for me. And of course I use various public Wi-Fi networks to access the Internet all the time. The first thing I do after connecting to the net is connect to a VPN (in my case the Kaspersky Lab VPN), and that is pretty much the best precaution I’d recommend anyone. That and, of course, keeping all your software – including your security suite – up-to-date, and not trusting anyone on the Internet.”

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ConceptD: Creatives get a tech brand of their own

The unveiling of a new brand by Acer recognises the massive computing power needed in creative professions, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It’s a crisp Spring morning in Brooklyn. The regular water taxi from Manhattan pulls up at Duggal Greenhouse on the edge of the East River. It’s a building that symbolises the rejuvenation of Brooklyn as a hub of artistic and creative expression.

Inside the vast structure, global computer brand Acer is about to unveil its own tribute to creativity. Company CEO Jason Chen takes to the stage in faded blue jeans and brown t-shirt, underlining the connection of the event to the informality of the area.

“Brooklyn is become more and more diverse,” he tells a gathering of press from around the world, attending the Next@Acer media event. “It’s an area that is up and coming. It represents new lifestyles. And our theme today is turning a new chapter for creativity.”

Every year, Next@Acer is a parade of the cutting edge in gaming and educational laptops and computers. New devices from sub-brands like Predator, Helios and Nitro have gamers salivating. This year is no different, but there is a surprise in store, hinted in Chen’s introduction.

As a grand finale, he calls on stage Angelica Davila, whose day job is senior marketing manager for Acer Latin America. But she also happens to have a Masters degree in computer and electric engineering. A stint at Intel, where she joined a sales and marketing programme for engineers, set her on a new path.

Angelica Davila, marketing manager for Acer Latin America

For the last few months, she has been helping write Acer’s next chapter. She has shepherded into being nothing less than a new brand: ConceptD.

Click here to read more about ConceptD.

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Which voice assistant wins battle of translators?

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Take the most famous phrase from the Godfather – “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” – or “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” from the inaugural address of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and see just how the virtual assistants do in translating them using their newly introduced Neural Machine Translation (NMT) capabilities. One Hour Translation (OHT), the world’s largest online translation service, conducted a study to find out just how accurate these new services are.

OHT used 60 sentences from movies and famous people ranging from the Godfather and Wizard of Oz to Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, US presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy and historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Aesop. The sentences were translated by Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri from English to French, Spanish, Chinese and German and then given to five professional translators for their assessment on a scale of 1-6. 

Google Assistant scored highest in three of the four languages surveyed – English to French, English to German and English to Spanish and second in English to Chinese.  Amazon’s Alexa, whose translation engine is powered by Microsoft Translator, was tops in the English to Chinese category. Apple’s Siri was second place in English to French and English to Spanish and third place in English to German and English to Chinese.  (See chart). All three virtual assistants are compatible with mobile phones.

“The automated assistants’ translation quality was relatively high, which means that assistants are useful for handling simple translations automatically,” says Yaron Kaufman, chief marketing officer and co-founder of OHT. He predicts that “there is no doubt that the use of assistants is growing rapidly, is becoming a part of our lives and will make a huge contribution to the business world.” 

A lot will depend on further improvements in NMT technology, which has revolutionized the field of translation over the past two years.  All the companies active in the field are investing large sums as part of this effort. “OHT is working with several of the leading NMT providers to improve their engines through the use of its hybrid online translation service that combines NMT and human post-editing,” notes Kaufman. He adds that this will no doubt have a huge impact on the use of assistants for translation purposes.

OHT has made a name for itself in assessing the level of translations by NMT engines.  Its ONEs Evaluation Score is a unique human-based assessment of the leading NMT engines conducted on a quarterly basis and used as an industry standard. 

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