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Simple security, complex passwords

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Digital technology solutions provider Ansys has launched an all-in-one online password vault and security authentication product, the SOLID webKey, designed to generate and store long, unique passwords for every site visited.

Thanks to its patented password protection technology, SOLID webKey can generate and store long, unique passwords for every site visited, giving owners the best security while only having to remember one master password themselves.

Developed and designed in South Africa by Ansys at its design and manufacturing facility, SOLID webKey helps internet users follow global best practices for protecting online accounts, in a simple-to-use but highly secure manner.

Ansys says the SOLID webKey represents years of experience, encapsulated in a straightforward device suitable for consumers, small businesses and enterprise use alike. It’s ease-of-use and flexibility for all purposes is underpinned by Ansys’ track record in cybersecurity design has been proven by serving demanding clients in the defence, aerospace, industrial and telecommunications sectors.

“Research performed on data that has been leaked onto the internet by criminal hackers continually shows that the general public struggles with basic account security,” explains Teddy Daka, CEO of Ansys. “Year after year, we see that easy to crack passwords such as ‘123456’ or ‘password’ are still in common use, and individuals rely on just one or two memorable passwords or passphrases to protect all their online accounts.”

The challenge is clear, says Daka. Security experts recommend the use of long passwords made up of uncommon phrases, and that every account is protected with a unique password. Yet, when millions of passwords lost in data leaks are analysed – including some of the three billion stolen from Yahoo! In 2013 – the same simple credentials are used over and over again. And if account name and password combinations details stolen from one service can be used to access another, the user is in trouble.

One significant challenge is that the best advice isn’t getting through to end-users. Many sites maintain outdated password policies which still require a mix of upper and lowercase, symbols and numbers. But even strong passphrases are impossible to remember without help, if a new one is created for every account. With SOLID webKey, users can generate passwords that comply with any policy,  using the maximum length accepted by the application, without having to remember it.

“People use easy to remember passwords because they choose convenience over security,” says Daka. “This shouldn’t come as a surprise. We shouldn’t expect people to remember passwords that are made up of 25 random characters for an account they need to access every day.

How does it work? Ansys provied the following information:

SOLID webKey helps to protect online accounts in two critical ways. As a portable password vault, it enables web users to create long, unique passwords for every service that they regularly sign into, which are stored in an encrypted database which in turn can only be accessed with a single master password.

SOLID webKey remembers difficult to crack passwords, so you don’t have to.

Passwords are stored on flash memory on-board the physical SOLID webKey device, which can be plugged into a USB port on any PC. Once plugged in, the SOLID webKey synchronises with the SOLID KeyPass software, which is derived from the industry-standard open source KeePass Password Safe, for access.

The product also has a unique and patented “liveliness” test as a second line of defence against loss of data, which requires a physical tap of the device before passwords can be accessed. This guards against the threat of malware which could steal passwords from the database after they have been decrypted.

Even strong passwords aren’t enough to defend against committed attackers, however, who may gain access to log-in credentials via phishing or other attacks.

To protect against this kind of threat, SOLID webKey’s second core feature is that it can also act as a hardware token for two-factor authentication (2FA), and is compatible with the Universal Two-Factor (U2F) standard promoted by the FIDO Alliance.

U2F is supported by popular service providers such as Google, Facebook and Dropbox. When enabled as an account setting, users will only be able to log in to these services when the SOLID webKey is physically present and the device is tapped by the user.

“Two-factor authentication is rapidly becoming the norm, and is a proven way to secure accounts,” says Daka. “Through SOLID webKey we hope to make it easier to use and therefore more popular with South Africans who want the best in online security.”

By making both strong passwords and 2FA easy to use, SOLID webKey is a major step forward for South African consumers and businesses.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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