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South Africa’s giant data breach: how to stay safe

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NordVPN offers some online safety tips after South Africa was hit by the biggest data breach in its history.

South Africa was recently hit by the worst data breach in its history. The personal information of more than 30 million South Africans – more than half of the total population – has leaked online, potentially causing identity theft for each one of the affected individuals. The leaked data includes names, ID numbers, income information, employment history, phone numbers and home addresses of everyone on the list.

The leaked information, contained in a 27GB file dating to 2015, was discovered by an Australian Internet security provider, Troy Hunt.

“When a huge amount of personal information is stolen, it can be used to steal bank account information or open bank accounts in that person’s name, “ said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN (Virtual Private Network). “Cyber criminals are not different from thieves who break into someone’s house – they just operate on a much larger scale, and are therefore even more dangerous. Governments still struggle with solutions for such massive-scale hacks, so our advice is for people to take their privacy into their own hands.”

NordVPN recommends these steps post-data breach (these are general safety tips that should be followed by every Internet user regardless if their privacy has been breached or not):

1. Use only https URL. Make sure all websites that you give your data to have the secure https URL. The ‘s’ in the URL means that it is a secure protocol and your data is encrypted properly.

2. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). VPNs connect you to the Internet through an encrypted tunnel. VPN server acts as a relay between the Internet and a company’s device, so nobody can see what data is being shared over the Internet. All that can be seen is that you are connected to a VPN server. A VPN service provider, such as NordVPN, can offer multiple benefits to small businesses and individuals, including secure data connections for remote workers and increased safety for business owners to share sensitive company data via an encrypted connection, so it’s not seen by any third parties.

3. Avoid downloading files from unknown senders. The rule is simple: if you are not familiar with the sender, better don’t click to download any attachments or any links they might be sending.

4. Update your firewall. Most systems have an automatically installed firewall–just make sure you follow up with its regular updates.

5. Use antivirus. Use an updated virus protection to make sure your system is protected from malware such as malvertising (advertisement online with malicious codes).

6. Strong passwords. Perhaps the most basic requirement for any online account setup is using strong passwords. Weak passwords make it simple for hackers to break into your system and cause severe damage.

7. Update your operating system. It sounds simple and easy to do, but sometimes we ignore the pop-up reminders for software updates. However, it’s one of the most important things to do with a computer, as the updates fix security vulnerabilities and system bugs.

8. Secure your mobile. If you are happy that your system is now secure, you might be forgetting one important part – your mobile devices. You probably store important passwords on your smartphone and other sensitive information, therefore, remember to encrypt your phone either.

9. Do not provide your private information to any third party. When you need to enter your personal data anywhere online, provide it only if it’s absolutely necessary. You never know where it will end up.

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Huawei Mate 20 unveils ‘higher intelligence’

The new Mate 20 series, launching in South Africa today, includes a 7.2″ handset, and promises improved AI.

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Huawei Consumer Business Group today launches the Huawei Mate 20 Series in South Africa.

The phones are powered by Huawei’s densest and highest performing system on chip (SoC) to date, the Kirin 980. Manufactured with the 7nm process, incorporating the Cortex-A76-based CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the SoC offers improved performance and, according to Huawei, “an unprecedented smooth user experience”.

The new 40W Huawei SuperCharge, 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge, and large batteries work in tandem to provide users with improved battery life. A Matrix Camera System includes a  Leica Ultra Wide Angle Lens that lets users see both wider and closer, with a new macro distance capability. The camera system adopts a Four-Point Design that gives the device a distinct visual identity.

The Mate 20 Series is available in 6.53-inch, 6.39-inch and 7.2-inch sizes, across four devices: Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X and Porsche Design Huawei Mate 20 RS. They ship with the customisable Android P-based EMUI 9 operating system.

“Smartphones are an important entrance to the digital world,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, at the global launch in London last week. “The Huawei Mate 20 Series is designed to be the best ‘mate’ of consumers, accompanying and empowering them to enjoy a richer, more fulfilled life with their higher intelligence, unparalleled battery lives and powerful camera performance.”

The SoC fits 6.9 billion transistors within a die the size of a fingernail. Compared to Kirin 970, the latest chipset is equipped with a CPU that is claimed to be 75 percent more powerful, a GPU that is 46 percent more powerful and an NPU (neural processing unit) that is 226 percent more powerful. The efficiency of the components has also been elevated: the CPU is claimed to be 58 percent more efficient, the GPU 178 percent more efficient, and the NPU 182 percent more efficient. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first commercial SoC to use the Cortex-A76-based cores.

Huawei has designed a three-tier architecture that consists of two ultra-large cores, two large cores and four small cores. This allows the CPU to allocate the optimal amount of resources to heavy, medium and light tasks for greater efficiency, improving the performance of the SoC while enhancing battery life. The Kirin 980 is also the industry’s first SoC to be equipped with Dual-NPU, giving it higher On-Device AI processing capability to support AI applications.

Read more about the Mate 20 Pro’s connectivity, battery and camera on the next page. 

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How Quantum computing will change … everything?

Research labs, government agencies (NASA) and tech giants like Microsoft, IBM and Google are all focused on developing quantum theories first put forward in the 1970s. What’s more, a growing start-up quantum computing ecosystem is attracting hundreds of millions of investor dollars. Given this scenario, Forrester believes it is time for IT leaders to pay attention.

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“We expect CIOs in life sciences, energy, defence, and manufacturing to see a deluge of hype from vendors and the media in the coming months,” says Forrester’s Brian Hopkins, VP, principal analyst serving CIOs and lead author of a report: A First Look at Quantum Computing. “Financial services, supply-chain, and healthcare firms will feel some of this as well. We see a market emerging, media interest on the rise, and client interest trickling in. It’s time for CIOs to take notice.”

The Forrester report gives some practical applications for quantum computing which helps contextualise its potential: 

  • Security could massively benefit from quantum computing. Factoring very large integers could break RSA-encrypted data, but could also be used to protect systems against malicious attempts. 
  • Supply chain managers could use quantum computing to gather and act on price information using minute-by-minute fluctuations in supply and demand 
  • Robotics engineers could determine the best parameters to use in deep-learning models that recognise and react to objects in computer vision
  • Quantum computing could be used to discover revolutionary new molecules making use of the petabytes of data that studies are now producing. This would significantly benefit many organisations in the material and life sciences verticals – particularly those trying to create more cost-effective electric car batteries which still depend on expensive and rare materials. 

Continue reading to find out how Quantum computing differs.

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