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TCL takes over making of BlackBerry phones

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TCL, the manufacturer of Alcatel phones, has been given long-term rights to design, produce, market and sell BlackBerry handsets.

BlackBerry and TCL Communication have announced a long-term licensing agreement, giving TCL the rights to design, manufacture, sell and provide customer support for BlackBerry-branded mobile devices. BlackBerry will continue to control and develop its security and software solutions, serve its customers and maintain trusted BlackBerry security software, while TCL Communication will manage all sales and distribution and serve as a global distributor of new BlackBerry-branded mobile devices along with dedicated sales teams.

BlackBerry recently announced it is transitioning its handheld devices strategy to focus on continued software innovation – “ultimately providing the most secure and comprehensive software for devices around the world, while working with third parties to develop hardware and distribute and market the BlackBerry handset brand”.

The agreement with TCL Communication is BlackBerry’s first global licensing agreement and expands on its existing relationship, which led to the introduction of the DTEK50 and DTEK60 handsets on Android which deliver a high standard of security.

“At TCL Communication, we are committed to creating the best portfolio solutions, while ensuring the quality support to consumers and enterprise users who trust the integrity of the BlackBerry device and the brand’s security leadership, coupled with the Android platform,” said Nicolas Zibell, CEO of TCL Communication. “Together with BlackBerry’s smartphone software platform, this partnership will strengthen our position in the global mobile market.”

The relationship between TCL Communication and BlackBerry builds upon their respective positions in mobile communications, as well as existing work together on the DTEK50 and DTEK60 handsets. By working with TCL Communication, the fourth largest handset manufacturer in North America and top-10 globally according to IDC, BlackBerry says it is ensuring its branded devices will be available around the world.

“This agreement with TCL Communication represents a key step in our strategy to focus on putting the ‘smart in the phone’ by providing state-of-the-art security and device software on a platform that mobile users prefer and are comfortable with,” said Ralph Pini, Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of Mobility Solutions at BlackBerry.

“TCL Communication is the natural choice to license BlackBerry’s software and brand on a global scale. We successfully partnered with them on the DTEK series of secure smartphones and we’ve been impressed with their excellence in hardware design, development and manufacturing.

“With our unparalleled expertise in mobile security and software and TCL Communication’s vast global reach and consumer access, we are confident that BlackBerry-branded products developed and distributed by TCL Communication will address the needs of BlackBerry users and expand the availability of BlackBerry Secure products throughout the world.”

TCL Communication will be the exclusive global manufacturer and distributor for all BlackBerry-branded smartphones with the exception of India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Additional information on the product roadmap and availability of devices will be announced in coming months.

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Get your passwords in shape

New Year’s resolutions should extend to getting password protection sorted out, writes Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET Southern Africa.

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Many of us have entered the new year with a boat load of New Year’s resolutions.  Doing more exercise, fixing unhealthy eating habits and saving more money are all highly respectable goals, but could it be that they don’t go far enough in an era with countless apps and sites that scream for letting them help you reach your personal goals.

Now, you may want to add a few weightier and yet effortless habits on top of those well-worn choices. Here are a handful of tips for ‘exercises’ that will go good for your cyber-fitness.

I won’t pass up on stubborn passwords

Passwords have a bad rap, and deservedly so: they suffer from weaknesses, both in terms of security and convenience, that make them a less-than-ideal method of authentication.  However, much of what the internet offers is independent on your singing up for this or that online service, and the available form of authentication almost universally happens to the username/password combination.

As the keys that open online accounts (not to speak of many devices), passwords are often rightly thought of as the first – alas, often only – line of defence that protects your virtual and real assets from intruders. However, passwords don’t offer much in the way of protection unless, in the first place, they’re strong and unique to each device and account.

But what constitutes a strong password?  A passphrase! Done right, typical passphrases are generally both more secure and more user-friendly than typical passwords. The longer the passphrase and the more words it packs the better, with seven words providing for a solid start. With each extra character (not to mention words), the number of possible combinations rises exponentially, which makes simple brute-force password-cracking attacks far less likely to succeed, if not well-nigh impossible (assuming, of course, that the service in question does not impose limitations on password input length – something that is, sadly, far too common).

Click here to read about making secure passwords by not using dictionary words, using two-factor authentication, and how biometrics are coming to web browsers.

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Code Week prepares 2.3m young Africans for future

By SUNIL GENESS, Director Government Relations & CSR, Global Digital Government, at SAP Africa.

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On January 6th, 2019, news broke of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to announce a new approach to education in his second State of the Nation address, including:

  • A universal roll-out of tablets for all pupils in the country’s 23 700 primary and secondary schools
  • Computer coding and robotics classes for the foundation-phase pupils from grade 1-3 and the
  • Digitisation of the entire curriculum, , including textbooks, workbooks and all teacher support material.

With this, the President has shown South Africa’s response to a global challenge: equipping our youth with the skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in the 21st century digital economy.

Africa’s working-age population will increase to 600 million in 2030 from a base of 370 million in 2010.

In South Africa, unemployment stands at 26.7 percent, but is much more pronounced among youths: 52.2 percent of the country’s 15-24-year-olds are looking for work.

As an organisation deeply invested in South Africa and its future, SAP has developed and implemented a range of initiatives aimed at fostering digital skills development among the country’s youth, including:

AFRICA CODE WEEK

Since its launch in 2015, Africa Code Week has introduced more than 4 million African youth to basic coding.

In 2018, more than 2.3 million youth across 37 countries took part in Africa Code Week.

The digital skills development initiative’s focus on building local capacity for sustainable learning resulted in close to 23 000 teachers being trained in the run-up to the October 2018 events.

Vital to the success of Africa Code Week is the close support it receives from a broad spectrum of public and private sector institutions, including UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Camden Education Trust, 28 African governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.

SAP’s efforts to drive digital skills development on the African continent forms part of a broader organisational commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4 (“Ensure quality and inclusive education for all”)

A core component of Africa Code Week is to encourage female participation in STEM-related skills development activities: in 2018, more than 46% of all Africa Code Week participants were female.

According to Africa Code Week Global Coordinator Sunil Geness, female representation in STEM-related fields among African businesses currently stands at 30%, “requiring powerful public-private partnerships to start turning the tide and creating more equitable opportunities for African youth to contribute to the continent’s economic development and success”.

Click here to read more about the Skills for Africa graduate training programme, and about the LEGO League.

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