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Time to flip the security switch

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The constant worry of virus outbreaks, malware and cyber espionage are often overlooked by business mangers, despite their CIO’s warning’s. KIBBY, REGIONAL Director at VMware Sub-Saharan Africa, believes the time is now for management to take heed of the malicious software out there and pay more attention to security.

The shuffling feet and the groaning voices echoing in the virtual dark of the organisation are not the zombie apocalypse. No, the moaning shouts of pain are the soundtrack of the cyber security conundrum. Where business leaders remain in the dark, scratching for insight into the real issues behind the security warnings and IT decision makers wave wildly on the other side of the room, desperately trying to get someone’s attention. In spite of consistently worrying outbreaks, statistics and attacks, cyber security remains plagued by a lack of understanding, limited internal resources, poor planning in the event of a breach and no cross-silo communication.

A recent survey by VMware found that organisations are under increased risk of serious cyber-attack with almost one fifth of IT decision makers (ITDM) in South Africa expecting to be hit within the next few days and 49% believing their organisation is vulnerable to an attack. These are scary figures made even scarier by the fact that 52% of respondents felt there wasn’t a plan in place to address a security breach, and that only a small number of people within the business even knew such a plan existed.  In fact, the research found that 43% of organisations which have a plan in place only have a few people aware of its existence and 10% either don’t have a plan or don’t know of one.

Added to this, there is a perception among IT decision makers that their board or C-Suite does not pay the right amount of attention to cyber-security and the issues which surround it. There is a reason – senior management doesn’t know how much of an issue it really is.

While IT experts can assess the threats and challenges without breaking a proverbial sweat, they need to communicate these more clearly. IT has to sit down and explain security birds and bees to the C-Suite so that all parties can come together to ensure there is planning and prioritisation around cyber security. It is a topic which must become a standard feature of the boardroom agenda and the IT decision maker is responsible for putting it there.

The survey found that many ITDMs were as guilty of not prioritising the cyber security story as the C-Suite thanks to limited budgets and allocation being pulled back across a number of silos. This included 23% cutting on mobile security, 18% reducing spend on threat monitoring and 24% dropping the budget on encryption investment. In light of the current economic conditions and a market that redefines the concept of mercurial, flat budgets are expected, but security has to remain a priority as the cost impact of a breach can be astronomical.

Budget constraints aside, security breaches are already significantly outpacing the amount spent on security. Ad hoc approaches to solutions are no longer capable or prepared enough to cope with the cyber onslaught. The statistics bandied about in media and research papers are all telling the same tale – cybercrime is rising, it is more organised, it is more targeted and nobody is sacrosanct. Every organisation, from the small business to the enterprise to the mega-conglomerate, is vulnerable to an attack.

The ITDM has to turn on the lights so the C-Suite can see what they’re up against and provide them with the right levels of support. Protecting critical assets and company reputation must remain a discussion point for both business and IT leaders and plans have to be put in place to ensure the organisation, from the top down, is aware of what needs to be done in the event of a breach.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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