South Africa: Green Smart Centre turns sun energy into education solutions

South Africa: Green Smart Centre turns sun energy into education solutions

South Africa: Green Smart Centre turns sun energy into education solutions.

Education is key to economic growth and a country’s economic performance is directly linked to the skills of its workforce and the quality of its education system. Skills shortages and challenges in delivering quality education in rural areas in South Africa stresses the importance of smart education solutions for businesses, communities and the education system.

The world is moving at an immense pace. Globalisation and international trade continues to highlight the importance of a competitive advantage to compete in the global marketplace. This necessitates governments and businesses to invest in ongoing training and to maintain pressure on education systems to deliver a healthy future workforce.

Going green is getting smarter by the day

The Sizwe Africa IT Group has taken the application of solar to the next level by turning sun energy into mobile education centres. Sizwe’s solar-powered Green Smart Centres provide businesses and government schools, especially in rural areas, with secure and self-sustaining computer-driven classroom facilities.

We don’t need no education

The education system in South Africa faces severe challenges, such as accessibility to schools in rural areas and access to up-to-date resources. Studies show that learners lack basic skills and knowledge compared to peers across the world. The knock-on effect on universities and the workforce can be seen in low graduation rates and high unemployment rates.

Internships and on-going in-house training are great ways to bridge the gap but more can be done to ensure a stronger educational foundation and a competitive future workforce. Fortunately, there are many new initiatives dedicated to bringing education and the workforce up to speed.

 

Make the e-learning circle bigger

Learner accessibility is key. These secure mobile structures seat 27 learners and can be transferred between locations. Each centre can extend its reach with a wireless router that can facilitate additional external devices such as laptops, smartphones and computers.

Knowledge is power

Educators using the centre will be fully trained by the online content provider and will support the demand for full-time educators. Interactive e-learning content supplied by the online content provider consists of interactive copy, videos and assessments, which supplement all major subjects in the public and private school syllabus.

No more reinventing the wheel

Each centre comes with an interactive smartboard that allows educators to record and save lessons, notes, verbal explanations and comments onto the server. Educators can develop unlimited educational material and resources. All learning information, progress monitoring, assessment data and reports are stored locally within the unit.

Lock up and go

Safety and security is in place to create a productive and enjoyable learning environment. All viewing screens and furnishings are securely bolted and a security camera keeps a close eye on the classroom and server room.

Go green and smart with CSI initiatives

Whether to get new employees up to speed or swiftly address a critical skills shortage within the business, Sizwe’s plug-and-play Green Smart Centres can significantly improve the speed and productivity of onboarding and internal training sessions.

Businesses can donate centres as part of their CSI initiatives – a smart way to go green. By investing in education, businesses invest in the quality of their own future workforce and by extension, economic growth in South Africa.

 

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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IFF2018: Experts assess state of internet freedom in Africa

IFF2018: Experts assess state of internet freedom in Africa

For three days, digital rights experts and stakeholders assessed the state of internet freedom in Africa. This was the recently concluded 6th Internet Freedom Forum organised by Paradigm Initiative at NAF Conference Centre, Abuja, between April 24 and 26, 2018.

The experts, who came from countries across Africa and the world, gathered in Abuja to help shape the future of policy on the Internet in Africa.

According to Tope Ogundipe, the Director of Programs at Paradigm Initiative, “The Internet is rapidly changing every aspect of life in Africa – including education, work, business, entertainment, governance and health, amongst others. Its growing importance has made it a contention ground for interests in government, the private sector and civil society. The Forum, therefore, serves as a platform to actively and proactively engage with policies that affect freedom and rights online.”

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Speaking at the event, Titi Akinsanmi, Head Public Policy and Government Relations at Google stated, “The Internet has become an indispensable tool for development in all sectors of life. All hands must be on deck to enable more access to the Internet, and to eliminate abuses such as privacy violations”.

Also speaking at the event, Akua Gyekye, Public Policy Manager West Africa for Facebook, remarked, “As Nigeria approaches the 2019 elections, the Internet is a useful vehicle for civic education for citizens on the best practices for political participation. Facebook will work with stakeholders in Nigeria to ensure that our platform is not abused to impact negatively on the elections.”

Nnenna Wakama, senior manager, Africa, for the World Wide Web foundation, highlighted the challenge of the rising cost of Internet data across the continent saying, “The conversation on Internet freedom must begin at looking at the prohibitive cost of data bundles which prevents millions of people from accessing the Internet in Africa”.

On the side session on Nigeria’s Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), Mr Damen Ilevbaoje, Program Manager at Budgit Nigeria, stated, transparent and effective use of the Universal Service Provision Fund is a priority if Internet access is to reach underserved areas in Nigeria’s rural areas”

Speaking at the international event, the executive director, Paradigm Initiative, ‘Gbenga Sesan, noted, “The Internet is without doubt one of the most important technological innovations of the 20th century, and has radically transformed every aspect of our modern society. IFF 2018 is continuation of the conversation we must continue to have with all stakeholders as we seek to build a healthy and free Internet space for Africa, and the world”.

Sesan said further that, “in continuation of this important conversation and to cater for an expanded audience, from 2019 the Internet Freedom Forum will now be known as the “Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum.”

Paradigm Initiative also announced the creation of a Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellowship, which is designed to give “media professionals, who are important stakeholders in this conversation, an opportunity to interact with professionals working on digital rights and inclusion across the continent”.

The Internet Freedom Forum welcomed over two hundred delegates from some thirty countries in Africa and beyond and received support from organisations including Microsoft, Ford Foundation, The Guardian, Mozilla, Google, Facebook, Premium Times and Civicus.

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Top four factors shaping the cloud computing landscape

Top four factors shaping the cloud computing landscape

Rob Lith – Business Development Director at Connection Telecom.

The past few years have seen many businesses migrating to the cloud because of the virtual platform’s exceptional benefits. From shrinking IT budgets to improved data security, it’s no exaggeration to say that the cloud serves as a foundation for the modern digital age. Just as businesses start to enjoy these benefits, however, new innovations – complete with both risk and advantage – seem to shake things up without any warning.

The Rise of 5G

While it’s likely that super-speedy 5th Generation connectivity will only really entrench itself in the year 2020, its arrival will certainly allow communication service providers to up their game – and preparations are already well underway. This latest mobile network technology will put providers in a position to offer new services like visual computing, analytics and high-definition audio, for starters. Then there’s the impact on the Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing. The combination of 5G and cloud-based or mobile technologies will not only better connect people, it’ll also bring more efficient and lower-cost connectivity to power the age of IoT. The adoption of 5G will also give rise to Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) initiatives, enabling the delivery of even more advanced applications. This means that bandwidth rates will be fast enough to support both augmented and virtual reality applications, for example.

Cybercrime & Regulations

As the number of connected devices continues to grow exponentially, so the risk of cybercrime increases. As seen with the recent Facebook data breach that affected up to 87 million users, and countless others over the years, big data is big business, and some will go to any lengths to get it. So, what are businesses doing to ensure their customers are protected? By now South African organisations are familiar with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) that regulates the processing of personal information and enforcement of data protection measures. But while these businesses should be focused on ensuring compliance with POPI, there also shouldn’t be an oversight when it comes to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

On 25 May this year, the European Union will implement GDPR, designed to enable individuals to better control corporate access to their personal data. What we need to consider is that the GDPR will apply anywhere data is transferred to or from the EU, meaning many South African businesses are likely to be affected by these rules and regulations too. The benefits don’t only apply to an improved sense of security. These regulations also mean an improvement in accuracy of company-stored data, greater customer reassurance if a business is considered “safe” – and being certified GDPR-compliant will certainly boost your businesses reputation in the eyes of potential customers.

Growing Infrastructure

Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service are two cloud computing offerings that continue to grow at a rapid pace, and for good reason! IaaS, for starters, can reduce costs on hardware and infrastructure, as well as on IT staffing and administration. It quickly responds to competitive pressures through agility and scalability, and provides a consolidated disaster recovery infrastructure, increasing overall manageability. PaaS, on the other hand, provides organisations with a set of tools to develop, customise and test their own applications. This allows for the focus to be on development without organisations having to worry about underlying infrastructure.

Edge Computing

Like 5G mobile network technology, the combination of edge and cloud computing is crucial to the growth and success of IoT. With more IoT devices comes an increased amount of data that then needs to be processed and analysed faster. Edge computing essentially streamlines the flow of traffic from IoT devices, lessening data demands, and providing real-time local data analysis. Big corporates looking to develop solutions within the telecoms industry, for example, will be able to successfully do so by putting the data gathered to optimal use. This technology limits data wastage and brings supplier and customer closer together for greater efficiency and improved collaboration.

At the end of the day, businesses will ultimately need to put into practice processes that lead to overall improvement, as well as bettered customer experience. The cloud, like all new technology, comes with associated risks. It also, however, presents great opportunities for local businesses looking to maintain a competitive edge in a world driven by technology.

By Rob Lith – Business Development Director at Connection Telecom

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Cloud is the new black

Cloud is the new black

Guilherme Sesterhein, Business Innovation at ilegra

It was said that “cloud is the new black” during a training session inside a Google’s office. You could think that this means that cloud is basic. But why did they say it? Google didn’t forged this beautiful sentence. Gartner did.

What Gartner means at that point by assuming that “cloud is the new black”? In short terms, Gartner said that the cloud market has potential to reach a US$ 1 trillion Market. When, right now, it’s just a US$ 56 billion Market.

Google repeats that for commercial purposes, of course. The reasons are the same for Microsoft, AWS and any other cloud provider: scalability, stability, abstraction of infrastructure processes and so on. And I totally agree with their reasons. But without considering those technical questions, to the final business results in terms of money, why is the cloud so basic?

How does that come to our businesses?

Yes, there are already a lot of companies moving to cloud and starting their applications inside the cloud. But I still can easily find many companies that aren’t even considering the cloud move. Inside my reality, it’s hard to understand. How can they not see cloud´s benefits? How can they still use its machines and spend millions of dollars buying more and more storage every 6 months? For me it’s a waste of time. I’ll explain why.

1.Physical space

The rooms where the machines are hosted. They cost money. On few companies, I’ve already seen very expensive blocks, inside noble areas like São Paulo, being used to host machines. They don’t need the datacenter to be that close to the offices. The latency doesn’t matter that much. I’m 100% sure. For sure if they remove everything there and rent the space, the renting revenues will pay for a big slice of monthly cloud cost. What if they sell it? It would mean more investments for areas in need of that money to innovate and be in front of their competitors. Because of that lack of money, those areas are wasting time. It’s waste of time.

2. Rework rate

Recently, in a data center, close to the company where I work, had a fire issue. Many governmental and private companies, core and non-core systems, were affected. And where were the backups? Inside the same building. Because of the fire, the fireman and police didn’t allow the technical team to get there and move the information to another data center. The replication wasn’t automatized. It caused more than 12 hours of unavailable systems. Can you imagine any company inside any industry without receiving transactions during this whole period? Imagine the financial area. It´s hard. Now imagine a factory without systems for 12 hours. They won’t sell for a whole day? You could answer “Yeah, but we can ‘take notes'”.

The employees don’t remember how to hold a pen this far. They also won’t know how much they´ve produced of what they produced. They won’t know how many times they spent producing things. But the main thing here is the overhead that will be created inside those companies to put everything back into the systems. Talking about the Brazilian market, they can even get a fine from the government because of some missing transactions on that day. What does all that means? Waste of time.

3. Why not the cloud?

I have a client who runs a retail solution on the cloud. The solution has been running for the last 2 years without downtime. Is it a core solution to their business? No, it’s not. But the fact that they don’t have headaches with that small system, saves them time to think about other things. Avoids tickets on traditional infrastructure teams. Saves their mental health also. Of course the cloud itself is not the only answer for the application stability. They do care about quality on their development process. Then all these benefits come easily.

4. When will companies decide to migrate to cloud?

It all makes me think that using the cloud is related to maturity. Now a quick link with internet-related startups: companies who grow unbelievable percentages every year in the entire world. The biggest part of them has the cloud in common. Most of their business models wouldn’t be possible without it.

The traditional companies, which already felt startups “bothering” their market shares, are moving, or already moved to the cloud.

Why does that happen to startups and big companies? Because the cloud gives them the speed they need. Things I’ve already seen in on-premise VS cloud environments:

A new environment to create a new app can take up to 1 month to be released by the infrastructure team to the development team to start work. It means one month less for that project. Within cloud it’s solved in less than an hour.

Analytics information being generated only with the data considering the day before the current. In cloud you can have live information to take your decisions.

Analysing petabytes of data without having to do that on the weekend, when there’s no concurrency with other systems running. In cloud you can do that whenever you want without buying millions of dollars of infrastructure in advance.

All these examples want to say the same thing: when the companies start feeling they are being left behind because they are slower than their competitors (either it is a startup or not), they will change.
So, why cloud is the new black?

So… Getting back to this topic, why cloud is the new black?

Because it means saving time. Because if this text made you remember of any issue you are having, or you may have inside your company, it means you will run after to solve it. It won’t be a short run to find all the responsible ones for everything and asking them to change to your new conceptions. It will take weeks. Months maybe. Those weeks or months spent by the team looking to fix or prevent something to happen, means weeks or months not looking to improve the business, not looking to be in front of competitors.

The IT area is not the support anymore. It can’t just be prepared to whatever the other areas will demand. It has to be the one of the leading business areas. And why is that true? The IT guys know what technology can do. The other areas don’t.

By Guilherme Sesterhein, Business Innovation at ilegra

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Nigeria to launch 2 satellites soon, says NIGCOMSAT

Nigeria to launch 2 satellites soon, says NIGCOMSAT

The Nigeria Communication Satellite Limited on Monday said that it was collaborating with China Great Wall Industry Cooperation (CGWIC) to launch two additional satellites.

Mr Samson Osagie, the Executive Director, Marketing and Business Development of the organisation said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday that the satellites would be deployed in the next 36 months.

Osagie explained that the durability of a satellite was 15 years, and that the Nigeria’s current satellite was seven years old.

“NIGCOMSAT is collaborating with China Great Wall Industry Cooperation and we are negotiating to launch additional two satellites in 36 months.

“Presently Nigeria does not have the capital to build and finance its own satellite which is why the collaboration is needed.

“The first satellite by Nigeria was launched in 2007 but had issues and was de-orbited. It was later re-launched in 2011 which makes it seven years now.

“The life span of a satellite is 15 years, which means that the first one is still functional and it is important to note that negotiations for projects like this take time,” Osagie said.

According to him, the additional satellites will meet the needs of telecommunication, maritime, defence, broadcast media, Africa, parts of Asia and others.

He said that the two satellites would be launched separately, adding that negotiations on their operations were ongoing simultaneously.

NAN reports that NIGCOMSAT-1, the first satellite was originally launched in May 2007, but de-orbited due to malfunctioning of the Solar Array Deployment Assembly.

The satellite was later re-launched in 2011 as NIGCOMSAT-1R and had been in the orbit since then.

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Role of Cloud Service Providers In Cloud Migration

Role of Cloud Service Providers In Cloud Migration

Sachin Bhardwaj, Director Marketing & Business Development, eHosting DataFort

Migration of data to the cloud is the process of moving business processes, business elements, data and applications, from an on-site, premises to a cloud environment. Similar to any migration process, transitioning an IT environment from onsite environment to the cloud has its share of project management and change management challenges.

However, migrating to the cloud has a unique challenge of its own. Once successfully migrated to the cloud, the end user’s IT environment and its data are no longer under the direct control of the end user. The cloud environment remains under the control of the cloud service provider and hence needs to be managed remotely by the end user.

Amongst the other operational considerations that need to be overcome are concerns around privacy, interoperability, data and application portability, data integrity, business continuity, and security. Migrating to the cloud has its share of benefits and hitches and end user organizations should work with their cloud service provider to identify what is in their best interests.

The cloud is meant to provide environments that are scalable, reliable, and highly available, amongst others. Migrating workloads to the cloud brings with it various benefits. The cloud platform can scale with the demands of user access and the connectivity is much better than an on-premises installation.

This means end users do not need to depend on investing in internal resources to manage performance as the demands scales up. And as the demands scales down, the investment does not become idle and suffer a loss in return on investment opportunity.

Migrating database, applications, and data to the cloud is therefore highly effective in managing the costs of organizational IT operations, while anticipating the demands of seasonal periodicity, and geographic and business expansion.

Increasing demands in terms of compute and storage resources linked to business expansion and increasing application workloads is another strong driver for end user organizations to bring in a cloud service provider. End users and business decision makers are increasingly impatient for the IT organization to produce these resources on demand and drive adoption of the cloud.

Application development cycles being managed by internal teams also need to be shortened to match business expectations in terms of time to market. Adoption of cloud helps to reduce application complexity and reduces time to market.

On the other hand, migrating to the cloud does raise its fair share of questions, primarily whether the move is justified or not. If the application manages sensitive, confidential, and country specific data, that is controlled by highly governed procedures of risk and compliance, it may not be possible to move such data and applications to the cloud. An end user organization that has outsourced a significant portion of its hardware and software operations to a third-party will find it increasingly challenging to move those parts to the cloud in the early phases of migration.

Similarly, those applications that are proprietary or have undergone significant customization on-premises will be challenged in the initial phases of cloud migration. If the applications being used on-premises are not cloud-ready, there will be similar obstacles in the initial phases of the migration.

The older an application has been in use in an end user organization, the more likely it will have multiple, complex points of integration, with other applications and third-party solutions. Also, the older the application, the less likely that a complete set of documentation or the skilled resources behind its deployment, will be readily available on-site.

A cloud service provider can play the role of a trusted partner by assisting in the process of migration to the cloud. This can be done by setting up a proof of concept in partnership with the end user organization. While not a perfect substitute, this will give the end user organization an idea of the following: comparison of application performance between on-premises and in-cloud; possible points of complexity and failure during migration; network bandwidth required for end-to-end data transfer; and hands-on evaluation of the capability of the cloud service provider, amongst others.

A healthy partnership between the end user organization and a cloud service provider can therefore go a long way in ensuring success of the cloud migration journey.

 

By Sachin Bhardwaj, Director Marketing & Business Development, eHosting DataFort

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Data: The business risk of the future

Data: The business risk of the future

Yolanda Smit, Regional (Gauteng) Director at PBT Group.

The data-driven environment of today will lead to the biggest business risk of the future – security around personal information. While [data] maturity levels across industries might vary, the regulatory environment focusing on information practices should give an indication as to its importance.

With services becoming increasingly digital, organisations must become good custodians of customer data. It requires just one incident making the news to financially and reputationally cripple an organisation. In the digital world, loyalty is very difficult to maintain. With so many competitors globally offering customers the products and services they need, it does not take much to see them migrate to a competitor.

Decision-makers, therefore, must be incredibly conscious of what they do with data and how they are safeguarding it.

Regulation

With the likes of POPIA (Protection of Personal Information Act) in South Africa and the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in Europe becoming law, being compliant with their requirements should be a fundamental first step for businesses. By adhering to these regulations, companies are protecting themselves against the risks of compromised data.

In this digital world, best practices simply cannot be sacrificed.

Despite this, the orientation of data in older environments are getting very little focus. Complicating matters is how newer systems and analytical approaches require better transparency. The need to protect this link and how the data is used must be critical components.

Open world

We are aware that the younger generation is more open about the kind of things they share online. But being open does not necessarily mean they are being frivolous with their privacy. In fact, they are more conscious than ever about the need to protect it.

This sees the emergence of a young customer base that puts privacy very high on their priority list. Therefore, data security is not something that should be viewed a grudge purchase. The same with compliance. These are important elements to realise business value.

Protecting data

Protecting against reputational damage should be the biggest motivational factor in compliance with data legislation. Broken confidence can take years to repair and it is never guaranteed to provide a complete recovery. Organisations cannot afford to compromise or lose data.

This means that if you are not mature in terms of leveraging the data at your disposal, then you cannot be competitive. Turning analytics into insights based on the data on your systems is a business imperative. To do any less, could see the business being forced to shut its doors sooner than you think.

By Yolanda Smit, Regional (Gauteng) Director at PBT Group

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SES increases reach in Nigeria to over 11 million TV homes

SES increases reach in Nigeria to over 11 million TV homes

SES increases reach in Nigeria to over 11 million TV homes.

SES has announced that it has increased its technical reach in Nigeria to over 11 million TV homes in 2017, up from 3 million in 2015, according to Satellite Monitor, a market study commissioned by SES that provides insights on the broadcasting industry and on SES’s reach in the country.

The Satellite Monitor results reveal that SES now reaches over 11 million TV homes, of which 3.5 million are directly served by its satellite fleet – a twofold increase compared to 2015. This means SES now directly serves 37% of satellite TV homes in Nigeria. Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) homes fed indirectly by SES also contributed to the increased reach.

The prime orbital position at 28.2 degrees East was a key driver for the growth of SES’s direct reach, with three million TV homes directly served via this orbital slot, up from 1.3 million in 2015. This video position hosts SES’s premium free-to-air TV platform for Nigeria, giving broadcasters access to the highest technical reach in West Africa. The growth of SES’s reach was also driven by direct satellite broadcasting and feeding DTT head-ends via 5 degrees East.

There are a total of 35 million TV homes in Nigeria, of which close to 10 million are served by satellite, and the rest are served by terrestrial networks. The penetration of digital TV has expanded to 25 million homes receiving digital TV signals, which represents 35% growth compared to 2015.

“SES has been committed to driving the growth of digital TV in Nigeria for many years, and local partners in the country appreciate the Satellite Monitor study as a token of our commitment,” said Clint Brown, Vice President, Sales & Market Development for Africa, SES Video. “We are particularly excited by our growing technical reach at 28.2 degrees East, which broadcasters and content programmers will be able to leverage to increase their audience via our Nigerian TV platform. In addition, the results show that the hybrid DTH/DTT approach is the winning strategy to deliver TV entertainment to the highest number of TV homes.”

SES has also expanded its reach to 30 million TV homes across Africa. In addition to the growth of homes reached in Nigeria, the study also shows that there was an increase from 2 million to 4 million homes reached in Ghana. Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania – which are being included in the Satellite Monitor for the first year – account for an additional 7 million homes reached by SES.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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Orange Digital Ventures invests in African telecoms

Orange Digital Ventures invests in African telecoms

Orange Digital Ventures invests in African telecoms

Orange Digital Ventures Africa, the Orange investment fund’s new initiative for Africa launched last June, is proud to announce its first investment, helping Africa’s Talking to raise $8.6 million alongside the IFC World Bank and Social Capital.

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa’s Talking is currently the leading company providing access to telecom operators’ communication and payment APIs (programming interfaces) for developers. It is now the favourite solution of many Kenyan startups and over 15,000 developers, many of which rely on these APIs including SMS, voice and USSD to design services that are revolutionising financial, energy, health and insurance services among others.

The transaction is subject to the usual conditions precedent, including the approval of Kenya’s competent authorities.

Upon completion, Africa’s Talking plans to accelerate its internationalisation to support its clients’ expansion strategies. Beyond Kenya, the company has started working in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Nigeria and Ethiopia.

“We are delighted that the first beneficiary of our African initiative is a recognised player providing access to operators’ APIs. We believe that it is essential to support every initiative that aims to make these APIs more accessible to entrepreneurs in Africa. The expansion of these mobile services is one of the key ways to help generate new innovations that will have an impact on the continent. What is more, this investment strengthens Orange’s position as leader in the ongoing mobile revolution. We look forward to seeing Africa’s Talking accelerate its pan-African expansion,” said Marc Rennard, Chairman of Orange Digital Ventures.

“This new round of fundraising will enable us to grow our pan-African community of Software Developers building businesses that consume communication and payment services. In this context, the arrival of Orange Digital Ventures is excellent news for Africa’s Talking. We intend to leverage this relationship to accelerate our expansion in countries where Orange is present and launch new products that deepen the engagement of Orange with Software Developers,” said Samuel Gikandi, CEO and co-founder of Africa’s Talking.

 

Edited by Daniëlle Kruger
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More than 20k malicious apps use Facebook APIs

More than 20k malicious apps use Facebook APIs

More than 20k malicious apps use Facebook APIs

Facebook’s quest to stop risky apps from using its services may take longer than expected, according to a recent report from cybersecurity company Trustlook. Trustlook has identified 25,936 malicious apps that are currently using one of the social media giant’s APIs, such as a login API or messaging API. App developers, when using these APIs, are able to obtain a range of information from a Facebook profile—things such as a name, location, and email address.

“It’s not surprising to discover so many malicious apps still utilizing Facebook services,” said Allan Zhang, co-founder and CEO of Trustlook. “Facebook’s growth and accessibility have made them a target for malicious developers for many years. It may take the company a while to clean up their ecosystem.”

Trustlook discovered the malicious apps within its SECUREai App Insights product, which continuously scans apps from across the world, and provides more than 80 pieces of information for each app, including permissions, libraries, risky API calls, network activity, and a risk score. This allows app store owners, app developers, and researchers to make informed decisions when assessing the risk of an app. SECUREai App Insights is currently securing three of the top five app stores in the world.

The Cambridge Analytica data-harvesting scandal has forced Facebook to take significant steps to protect its users’ privacy. App developers are no longer permitted to access as much data about Facebook users as they once could. In addition, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company will “audit” thousands of apps, and hire 10,000 new security and content moderation employees this year.

But questions remain. Does Facebook have the expertise to review the thousands of apps out there syphoning user’s data surreptitiously? Can it do it at scale? Can it hire thousands of security employees, considering a 2017 report on the state of the cybersecurity industry that projected the field will be short 1.8 million workers globally by 2022?

Whether Facebook can accomplish their goals remains to be seen, but it’s clear the company needs better visibility into how user information is being handled by third-party apps. And most likely it needs a sophisticated piece of software to help.

To be fair, Facebook is not the only company with its APIs embedded in malicious applications. Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, and Yahoo offer similar options to developers, and thus their user data faces similar exposure. Experts conclude that all of these companies need to remain diligent about what user information is being granted to apps.

 

Edited by Daniëlle Kruger
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