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We must modernise cybersecurity law

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Even though there are quite a few laws governing cyberspace in South Africa, many believe that an additional one would be excessive, writes LUCIEN PIERCE, Partner, Phukubje Pierce Masithela Attorneys.

South African law already has at least four pieces of legislation and one policy that can be used to combat cybercriminals. It is for this reason that a few information security industry players have argued that the addition of one more cybersecurity law, such as the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill, would be excessive.

In the Information Security industry, there is an argument that laws such as the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 2002, the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act 2002, as well as the Protection of Personal Information Act and the National Cybersecurity Policy Framework, are sufficient to combat the growing scourge of cybercrime.

However, the reality remains that whilst each of these pieces of legislation have elements that address cybercrime, they are just not adequate enough to deal with the highly complex and multijurisdictional methods that cybercriminals now utilise in this day and age. It would require a seasoned lawyer to extract the relevant provisions of each of the above pieces of legislation and to craft a satisfactory charge sheet or summons for some of today’s complex cybercrimes.

Consider a hacker who breaches a company’s security systems, steals its intellectual property then sells its clients’ personal information and makes its computers slaves in a botnet, and incapacitates its computer network by using ransomware.  The lawyer would have to be an expert on each of the pieces of legislation and rely on portions of each of the above laws to address each of the different types of crimes committed in this context.

It is for this reason that firstly, our laws need to be modernised, and secondly, the requisite of having one comprehensive law that is able to account for any of the circumstances as mentioned.

The recent R300-million Standard Bank credit card “hack” is a prime example of the multijurisdictional nature of cybercrimes.  The bank could have possibly had its South African systems hacked by cybercriminals to steal the credit card information.  Small time criminals based in Japan may have withdrawn the cash whilst hackers based anywhere in the world from Turkey, to Russia, and Brazil or the United States may well have masterminded the heist.

Tackling Cybercrime in SA_Infographic

Therefore, without a single comprehensive cybercrime and cybersecurity law, that is able to prescribe the complex issues that arise out of cybercrime, organisations that are victims of cybercrime and the organs of state tasked with investigating them, are going to have a much more difficult job on their hands. For this reason we need the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill— a piece of legislation that will be on par with other similar international statutes such as the Council of Europe’s Budapest Convention on Cybercrime.  Through the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill, one comprehensive piece of legislation is formulated which can address the realities of present day cybercrime by creating offences and prescribing penalties related to cybercrime, regulating jurisdiction, as well as the powers to investigate, search and gain access to or seize items in relation to cybercrime. The Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill also facilitates the regulating aspects of international cooperation in respect to cybercrime investigations, it promotes best practice which requires that points of contact exist in various countries to provide speedy assistance and investigation of cybercrime. It also makes provision for the formation of a number of public and private sector structures in South Africa, that are intended to collaborate and assist with addressing cybersecurity and cybercrime.

South African organisations would do well to embrace, and acquaint themselves with the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bills. It is fundamental that our police force be equipped with the capabilities and authority to investigate the consequences of cybercrime as well as the ability to quickly request and receive the assistance of police elsewhere to investigate crimes that happen outside of our country.

The Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill is a necessary piece of legislation that will go a long way to enhancing South African organisations in their ability to fight cybercrime, wherever the criminals may be.

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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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