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Collaboration is key to protecting critical infrastructure from cyber threats

December 10, 2018 • Security, Top Stories

Collaboration is key to protecting critical infrastructure from cyber threats

National power grids are increasingly becoming a target of hackers and attacks. Several hacks have been reported across the globe in recent years, drawing the world’s attention to the vulnerability of national power supply systems, and bringing into question the safety of these and other infrastructural services.

‘Cyber attacks’ with widespread infrastructural failures as their goal, have the potential to take down a country’s power grid, as already proven by previous attacks. This has made cybersecurity a number one priority for global corporates, and often their first step to achieving this is by future-proofing their operations,” says Taru Madangombe, Schneider Electric Energy VP for Southern Africa.

“In order to future-proof, utilities must revise their attitudes towards cybersecurity, highlighting it as a pressing need rather than an afterthought. Hackers tend to focus on attacking critical infrastructure industrial processes, rather than physical assets.”

Many plants are convinced that their networks are isolated and consequently secure, but without ongoing audits and intrusion detection, that security could just be a delusion.

“The growing demand for open information sharing between business and production networks increases the need to secure transactions and data. For power generating companies, where consequences of an attack could have widespread impact, the need for cybersecurity is even more pressing,” he says.

The open and interoperable nature of today’s industrial automation systems — many of which use the same computing and networking technologies as general-purpose IT systems — requires engineers to pay close attention to network and cybersecurity issues.

“It’s also important to remember that threats can come from many sources, external or internal, ranging from terrorists, disgruntled employees, to environmental groups and common criminals. Making matters worse, the technical knowledge, skills, and tools required for penetrating IT and plant systems are becoming more widely available. As the incidents of threats increase, the level of sophistication necessary to implement an attack is decreasing, making it easier for intruders.”

Power engineers play a critical role in hardening power operations against intruders, however collaboration and support of both corporate management and the IT department are essential.

A recent companywide vulnerability audit of a large U.S. utility revealed some areas of technical vulnerability in the control system, but most of the findings had to do with organisational problems, such as lack of plant-wide awareness of cybersecurity issues in general, inconsistent administration of systems, lack of a cybersecurity incident response plan and poor physical access to some critical assets.

“Corporate management must acknowledge the need for secure operations, and because few companies have the resources to harden all processes against all possible threats, management must guide the development of a security policy that will set organisational security priorities and goals. In having all departments working together, project engineers must understand the security risks and possible mitigation strategies, while IT, which brings much of the security expertise, must understand the need for real‑time availability to keep units

Deepika stuns in red at Isha Ambani's pre-wedding ceremony

Stealing a million hearts, Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone stunned in a red hot saree at Isha Ambani’s pre-wedding function in Udaipur.

Deepika’s stylist Shaleena Nathani shared her look on Instagram.

Wearing label Faabiiana, ‘Bollywood’s Mastani looked no less than a queen in a beautiful red sari with a halter neck blouse paired with a Kundan neckpiece and earrings, which perfectly accentuated her look. She kept her makeup minimal with a winged eye-liner.

Deepika and Ranveer Singh, who got hitched in November, returned to Mumbai this morning.

A number of Bollywood stars, including Shah Rukh Khan, Gauri Khan, Aamir Khan, Karan Johar, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayan Mukherji, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and Abhishek Bachchan, were also a part of the celebrations.

Apart from a host of Bollywood celebrities, former United States First Lady Hillary Clinton and singer Beyonce were among the high-profile attendees at the celebrations.

Isha, the daughter of business tycoons Mukesh and Nita Ambani, and Anand Piramal, the son of Swati and Ajay Piramal — founder of Piramal Realty, a leading real estate firm in India, will tie the knot on December 12 in Mumbai.

Text: ANI
Images: Instagram

Samsung Galaxy A8s is official with an Infinity-O display with punch hole camera

Samsung just announced the world’s first smartphone with camera hole in the display, the Galaxy A8s. Samsung calls Infinity-O design and it appears that the company beat Huawei to the punch as the Honor View 20 will be second to the finish line.

Anyway, the Galaxy A8s’ in-display camera isn’t the only centerpiece feature of the device. It’s actually a pretty capable smartphone with a powerful Snapdragon 710 chipset paired with either 6 or 8GB of RAM while the storage is 128GB. It can be expanded with a microSD card of up to 512GB.

As for the screen, it incorporates a camera hole that’s 6.7mm wide for the selfie shooter in the upper left corner and it stretches to 6.4″ in diagonal. The resolution is 1080 x 2340 pixels with a tall 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The bezels around the panel are pretty slim, including the chin but since Samsung doesn’t mention anything about Super AMOLED, it’s easy to assume that the phone is indeed with a regular old LCD IPS screen. It looks like the initial rumors about BOE manufacturing the LCD screens might be true.

On the back we find a triple-camera setup that consists of a 24MP main sensor with a large f/1.7 aperture and a secondary 10MP telephoto lens with f/2.4 opening. The third one is used only for depth sensing and it’s 5MP with f/2.2 aperture. As for the front-facing camera, it’s 24MP with f/2.0 aperture. The fingerprint reader is right there as well.

The phone carries a 3,400 mAh battery with adaptive fast charging support over USB-C and runs on Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box with Samsung’s UI on top.

It’s available in Blue, Gray and Green – all appear to be gradient colors – and can be pre-ordered until December 21 in China and we assume that the actual shipping will begin after that. Unfortunately, there’s still no pricing of the phone but judging by the specs so far, it should be somewhere in the upper-mid-range segment.

Source (in Chinese)

Utility management in East Africa

December 10, 2018 • East Africa, Opinion

Marleze van Loggerenberg, Head of Business Development Africa at Wipro Limited

Urban areas in East Africa are struggling to meet the high demands for electricity, water and sanitation, and poor, inefficient utility delivery continues to plague countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Year-on-year urban population growth is adding pressure to an already over-loaded grid.

Electricity and water supply is intermittent and often not regulated enough or not properly monitored, and complexities such as disparate systems and multiple service providers contribute to the growing problem.

Apart from increasing demand, many of these countries also struggle with aging infrastructure, which can make utility provision unsafe, as well as unreliable. Electricity supply is often interrupted due to people cutting down the wooden pylons to use to build their homes, often leaving the site dangerous and in a state of ill repair until the utility provider is able to find time to fix it – and that’s when they are able to identify where the issue is.

Primed for technology

There is a strong push from governments to uplift these countries with innovative solutions for utility and infrastructure provision, which may well see them leapfrogging to sustainable energy solutions quicker than the rest of the world. However, before a country is able to get their infrastructure, services and utilities to the point it needs to be, they need to get their back-office systems such as billing structures and customer management in line, first.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions are gaining popularity in East Africa to help solve these billing concerns, and to try streamline processes and better manage various stakeholders. Current systems in place for many of these regions are outdated and fragmented, with many of them still operating manually. In order to run utilities more efficiently, proven Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), Metering and Billing solutions need to be deployed.

Next level EAM

This goes a step further, however. EAM systems can also help utility providers to fix and maintain their infrastructure, through enterprise asset management. Utility providers know that they need to address existing problems before they can begin upgrading or building out from their infrastructure. This is a lengthy and less rewarding process, especially as something inevitably breaks as soon as another thing is fixed.

These utility providers are perfectly primed to leverage EAM systems with built in toolsets, like field force enablement and edge devices like sensors, to quickly and proactively resolve issues on broken electricity cables and water lines. This enables them to better schedule regular and predictive maintenance teams who, with the aid of geo-fencing and tracking, don’t waste time going to the wrong area or driving across country when a closer team can attend a fault.

Smart devices

Accurately measuring water and electricity usage is challenging in some African countries. Many dwellers don’t have running water or electricity, and either leverage off of their neighbour’s supply or, as with water, take from a communal tank. Those with

Radhika Apte is magical: Stana Katic

Former Castle star Stana Katic, who will be seen sharing screen space with Radhika Apte in a World War II spy drama, says the Indian actress is magical.

“She (Radhika) is magical. It was quite a lot of fun working opposite her. She is a very special gift. I know why Indian audiences love her dearly,” Katic told IANS.

Talking about the film, she said: “We wrapped that film in June. It’s in the stage of editing. The film centres on a story of three real women who were spies during World War II. It focuses on their efforts to free Nazi-run France.

“In this film, I play a British spy mistress. The creator of the James Bond series had said that in the real world of spies, Vera Atkins was the boss. So since we started telling that tale, we learned about these extraordinary women who just stood out as epic heroes from World War II. I have come to admire them very much.”

Radhika plays Indian-origin British spy Noor Inayat Khan in the movie.

Katic also shared that she would love to work on an Indian feature film.

“I was in talks to do a beautiful romance film set in India, but ultimately the timing didn’t work out. I would love to work on an Indian feature. As for working with people from different cultures, that’s one of the elements of filmmaking that I enjoy,” she said.

“I have worked with people from Canada, Hungary and Jordan. We have actors and crew members from across the globe working on Absentia (her new series). The languages you can hear, the ones spoken on the set at any given day reminds me of the UN conferences,” she added.

She is currently shooting for the second season of Absentia in Bulgaria.

Text: IANS
Images: Radhika on Instagram

Pocophone F1 gets a price cut in India

The Pocophone F1 is sold in India as Poco F1 and is being a huge hit due to its low price and its flagship performance due to the Snapdragon 845 chipset. The subbrand celebrated 700,000 sold units last week and to celebrate the milestone it slashed the price of the phone down to INR19,999, which is equal to $280/€245.

Pocophone F1 New Price (in INR) Old price (in INR) 6 GB + 64 GB 19,999 20,999 6 GB + 128 GB 22,999 23,999 8 GB + 256 GB 27,999 28,999

The Poco F1 can be purchased on Mi.com and on Flipkart in all RAM and storage combinations in each of the three colors – Graphite Black, Steel Blue, Rosso Red. There is also a Kevlar option, but it is the only one not receiving the permanent discount at the online retailer in India.

Thanks for the tip, matt!

Source

South African Gaming Awards to be launched at Comic Con Africa 2019

December 10, 2018 • Gadgets and Gaming

Comic Con Africa 2019.

Reed Exhibitions Africa has announced that the inaugural South Africa Gaming Awards will be hosted at Comic Con Africa 2019. The South Africa Gaming Awards is set to become a key feature of Comic Con Africa and has been established to celebrate individuals, teams, developers, streamers, journalists and the like in the gaming industry. Categories and submission details will be announced early in 2019 for the awards which will take place in September 2019.

Carol Weaving, Managing Director of Reed Exhibitions states: “On the back of the roaring success of the inaugural Comic Con Africa earlier this year we came to the realisation that there is no platform of this nature on the African continent where those who are excelling in the gaming industry have an opportunity to be acknowledged. We want to bring peers and like-minded individuals together to celebrate this industry and build this community across the board. To all future entries: Game on!”

Comic Con Africa 2019 will take place from 21 – 24 September 2019, at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand.

Edited By Darryl Linington
Follow @DarrylLinington on Twitter
Follow @ITNewsAfrica.com on Twitter

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How low will bitcoin go? History provides some clues

Nearly 170 years before the invention of bitcoin, the journalist Charles Mackay noted the way whole communities could “fix their minds upon one object and go mad in its pursuit”. Millions of people, he wrote, “become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first”.

His book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, published in 1841, identifies a series of speculative bubbles — where people bought and sold objects for increasingly steep prices until suddenly they didn’t. The best-known example he cites is the tulip mania that gripped the Netherlands in the early 17th century. Tulip bulbs soared in value to sell for up to 25 000 florins each (close to R500 000 in today’s money) before their price collapsed.

The bitcoin bubble surpasses this and all other cases identified by Mackay. It is perhaps the most extreme bubble since the late 19th century. In four years, its price surged almost 2 800%, reaching a peak of US$19 783 in December 2017. It has since fallen by 80%. A month ago, it was trading at more than US$6 000; it is now down to US$3 500.

To begin to answer this question, we need to understand what creates the values that drive speculative price bubbles

That’s still a fantastic gain for anyone who bought bitcoin before May 2017, when it was worth less than $2 000, or before May 2016, when it was worth less than $500.

But will it simply keep dropping? What makes bitcoin worth anything?

To begin to answer this question, we need to understand what creates the values that drive speculative price bubbles, and then what causes prices to plunge.

The above chart shows the magnitude of the bitcoin bubble compared with the price movement of Japanese property and dot-com bubble from four years prior to their peak until four years after.

We typically think about bubbles in financial assets such as stocks or bonds, but they can also occur with physical assets (such as property) or commodities (like tulip bulbs).

A bubble begins when the price people are willing to pay for something deviates significantly from its “intrinsic value”.

Theoretical

The intrinsic value of an asset is theoretical, based its “fundamental” value. Fundamental value includes: the ability to generate cash flow (for example, interest or rental income); scarcity or rarity value (for example, gold or diamonds); and potential use (for example, silver and platinum are used in both jewellery and industrial operations).

A house may have fundamental value owing to the scarcity of land, its use as a home, or its ability to generate rental income. A tulip (or bitcoin) has none of those things; even the presumed scarcity does not exist when you consider all of the alternative flowers (or cryptocurrencies) available.

Initially, most investors tend to be cautious and ‘rational’ about a new technology

A bubble tends to occur after a sustained period of economic growth, when investors’ get used to the price an asset always

What’s causing today’s IT security gap?

December 10, 2018 • Opinion, Security

What’s causing today’s IT security gap?

What’s stopping global businesses from protecting their assets despite significant investments in cybersecurity programmes? That’s the question we asked ourselves when trying to determine what the reasons are behind the dangerous gap in modern IT security.

We define the gap as the inability of an organisation’s people, processes and technologies to keep up with a constantly changing threat landscape. And, given that data breaches are now so common that on average 58 records are stolen every second, we know it’s a problem that needs to be addressed urgently.

Here’s a closer look at what’s stopping businesses from identifying, detecting, containing and resolving data breaches and other security incidents in an IoT era.

Expanding and blurring the line of the corporate perimetre

Firstly, it’s no secret that the volume of IoT devices connecting to corporate networks has exploded – eclipsing that of the global population. This level of proliferation is impacting the requirements each organisation has when it comes to network security. Over half (fifty-five percent) of respondents from our global study with The Ponemon Institute said it is hard to protect the expanding and blurring IT perimeter considering IoT, especially with BYOD, cloud and the opening up of networks to partners. A clear lack in security strategy around IoT is only compounding this problem. In fact, only 24 percent of respondents said that their organisation’s IoT devices are appropriately secured with a proper security strategy in place.

Tackling the security issue without the skills and expertise

A big part of this problem is rooted in the difficulty organisations have in recruiting security staff with the necessary skills and expertise to protect complex and dynamically changing attack surfaces. Half of Ponemon’s respondents said staff lack the crucial expertise to match the risks these attackers and corresponding threats present, citing it as the main reason behind security gaps.

Accountability is another issue for consideration. When asked who inside their organisation was responsible for IoT security, responses ranged from CTO, CIO, CISO and line-of-business leaders. Lack of ownership of course impacts the ability of an organisation to tackle complex cybersecurity threats – as there is no clear consensus over where the responsibility lies.

A disconnect on IT process and training

In addition to this, employees lack security understanding. For example, in a previous study, over 70 percent of global employees revealed they were compromising network security by sharing passwords and devices. It’s these kind of behaviours that can cause immense damage. Just imagine an employee with local administrator rights disabling security solutions on their PC. It could allow an infection to spread onto the entire corporate network.

To keep up with these threats and future-proof against the insider threat, of course training is valuable, but we also need to keep ahead of sophisticated and well financed attackers by being able to act with speed and deep visibility into user activity. That way we can spot potential changes in

Huawei Enjoy 9 chooses Snapdragon over Kirin, lacks a fingerprint scanner

Huawei has just announced the Enjoy 9 – a watered down version of the Enjoy 9 Plus that went on sale in China in October.

The Huawei Enjoy 9 has a 6.26-inch 720x1520px IPS LCD, a 13MP f/1.8 + 2MP f/2.4 depth-sensing dual camera and an 8MP f/2.0 selfie camera.


Huawei Enjoy 9

Buyers can choose between a 3GB + 32GB or 4GB + 64GB but both come with a lowly Snapdragon 450 chipset with no choice of Kirin available. There’s no biometric means of unlocking on the Huawei Enjoy 9 – only insecure face scanning.

The good news is that there’s a 4,000mAh battery that should help the Enjoy 9 last a long time. Software is EMUI 8.2 on top of Android 8.1 Oreo.


Huawei Enjoy 9

The Huawei Enjoy 9 comes in a choice of Black and three gradient Aurora colors – Blue, Red and Purple. While Huawei hasn’t disclosed the price just yet, the Enjoy 9 goes on sale in China on 12 of December.

Source | Via

SqwidNet announced as Diamond sponsor for IoT Forum 2019

December 10, 2018 • Events, Internet of Things, Top Stories

SqwidNet will be led from the front by CEO, Phatizwe Malinga

SqwidNet has extended their partnership with IT News Africa by returning as a Diamond Sponsor for the 3rd straight year at the annual IoT Forum Africa 2019, which is set to take place between 26-27 March 2019 at the Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand Johannesburg.

The highly anticipated conference is targeted at thought leaders, IoT ecosystem participants and experts in Africa, and will create a platform for all players to share their knowledge of real-world IoT trends, challenges and solutions.

IoT Forum Africa 2019 will gather thought-leaders, solution providers and decision-makers from diverse industries.

SqwidNet will be led from the front by CEO, Phatizwe Malinga who will deliver a keynote on the opening day. Malinga was previously Chief Solutions Officer at SqwidNet, before being appointed as Chief Executive Officer in April of 2018.

Having been involved in the information technology and telecommunication industry for over two decades and being in senior management level positions, Malinga is set to unpack and give insights on the Internet of Things.

SqwidNet was launched in November 2016 as a licensed SIGFOX operator in South Africa. The SqwidNet network offers low-cost access to IoT solutions and operators in South Africa, creating opportunities for businesses, both small and large, to create innovative solutions.

The company began through a partnership between Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) and global IoT operator Sigfox. Today, Sigfox has a presence in over 50 countries and covers 1 billion people with its global network, allowing Sigfox Ready™ devices to roam at no extra cost.

The SqwidNet network currently covers over 85% of the South African population, enabling millions of physical devices to be connected to the digital world.

Staff Writer

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Netflix unveils its first SA original series

Netflix is working to release its first-ever South African — and African — original television series, it was reported on Monday.

According to Independent Group’s IOL Entertainment website, the global streaming giant will collaborate with the stars of South African film Catching Feelings, Pearl Thusi and Kagiso Lediga, for its first-ever African original series.

The new show, called Queen Sono, involves Thusi taking on the role of a highly trained South African spy. Lediga will direct the show, which will be produced by Tamsin Andersson.

The announcement comes after Netflix said last month that it will soon offer more local programming to its audiences on the continent

The announcement comes after Netflix said last month that it will soon offer more local programming to its audiences on the continent.

Variety reported last week that Netflix had confirmed plans to commission original series from Africa in 2019.

The entertainment website quoted Erik Barmack, Netflix’s vice president of international originals, as saying that its European team was “in the process of looking at opportunities in Africa. It’s definitely the case that we’ll commission some series there in … 2019.”

IOL reported that Queen Sono, which will launch in 190 countries next year, will be the first of many productions Netflix plans to do in Africa.

The development comes as rival Showmax, owned by MultiChoice, plans to release its second locally made series. The Girl From St Agnes is a murder mystery and Showmax’s second original show after the well-received Tali’s Wedding Diary.  — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

Honor View 20 teased with an in-screen camera and a 48MP camera

We are in Hong Kong for the official introduction of Honor View 20 – its first phone with an in-screen camera. The device is yet to be launched to the wide audience, but we got an exclusive peek of the new device. It will be the first smartphone with a 48 MP camera, implementing the Sony IMX586 sensor.

Another breakthrough the Huawei subsidiary introduced is Link Turbo – a technology allowing simultaneous Wi-Fi + 4G use, so the connection is not choking over poor public networks.

Honor skipped on revealing any specs and the unit we held was in a pre-production body, hiding the design of the phone. The company did say the screen of the View 20 will have a 4.5 mm cutout for the camera, with the screen now called Full-View Display 3.0.

The chipset will be Kirin 980 with its dual-NPU to bring 48 MP AI HDR mode that Honor claims can match single-lens reflex cameras.


Honor View 20 hands-on images in a pre-production body

Speaking about the camera, the Sony IMX586 CMOS is on a massive 1/2-inch sensor (0.8 µm/pixel) and has the Quad Bayer color array, stacking adjacent 2×2 pixels in the same color. In theory, the View 20 should shoot low-noise 12 MP pictures in low-light. Honor is going all-in with this camera being the sole snapper of the main setup, instead of going for dual- or triple-cam solutions like other flagships.


Honor View 20 Camera samples in 48 MP & 12 MP

The phone will be officially announced on December 26 in China as Honor V20, while the global launch is taking place in Paris on January 22, as we reported earlier.

Tech experts and policymakers discuss Nigeria’s digital future

December 10, 2018 • General, West Africa

Fireside session with Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Bagudu.

Information Technology (IT) experts have called for a collaboration between policymakers in the government, private sector players, civil society and academic researchers to ensure that Nigeria explores the ongoing digital transformation across the globe, embraces its own digital future and augments the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI). This call was made at the Inaugural Digital Economy Workshop Series for Nigerian Policymakers organised by Lagos Business School (LBS) in partnership with foremost technology company, Microsoft.

Held at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, conversations at the workshop began with Academic Director, LBS and digital financial services specialist, Dr Olayinka David-West sharing insight into the current state of affairs in Nigeria’s IT landscape.

“The digital ecosystem has changed, and we have seen developments in Infrastructure, Agriculture, FinTech, E-commerce, and Telecommunications such that the dynamics of market entry now freely allows skilled individuals to be IT solutions providers,” David-West said.

“These technological transformation have impacted economic activities, particularly the on-demand, sharing, and circular economic systems. Therefore, policy, regulation, and incentives are some of the factors that should be prioritised in our discussions while also seeking ways to ensure technology contents are localized,” she added.

A fireside session with Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Bagudu, moderated by Executive Secretary, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Akintunde Oyebode explored the future of work as it concerns education and digital skills.

Rimini Makama, Government Affair Director, Microsoft Nigeria further expanded thoughts on the new digital economy saying, “Governments and educational institutions should continue investing in digital skills by creating more technical colleges which can be achieved by partnering with organisations who can help train and build a local technology ecosystem. We need to identify what Nigeria’s comparative advantage is over other countries, and what sort of labor force we should be developing by paying focus to what people in our countries do well that machines cannot do. There also needs to be a shift in educational policies with an increased focus on vocational skills and other forms of certifications”.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the driving force for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and developed economies are taking full advantage of AI technologies in making breakthrough advances in healthcare, education, transportation, and more. However, Africa is yet to completely catch up with the rest of the world despite its inherent potentials because awareness about AI is low.

This was the core of the discussion at the panel session moderated by LBS Faculty, Professor Olawale Ajai who alongside private sector leaders concluded that policymakers have a major role to play in ensuring Nigeria and its citizens reap the benefits of AI in the very near future.

Director of Programs, Paradigm Initiative, Tope Ogundipe who sat on the panel said: “We need a national strategy on Artificial Intelligence (AI), but unfortunately, those conversations are not yet happening. It is also important that we look in the direction of training