Uber reveals massive data breach

Uber reveals massive data breach

Uber reveals massive data breach.
(Image Source:

Taxi-hailing company, Uber, has revealed that they concealed a hack that affected 57 million customers and drivers. The breach occurred in October 2016 and Uber paid hackers $100,000 to delete the data.

The hackers found 57 million names, email addresses and mobile phone numbers, Uber released a statement on their site. Within that number, 600,000 drivers had their names and license details exposed.

Sophos Principal Research Scientist Chester Wisniewski, “Uber’s breach demonstrates once again how developers need to take security seriously and never embed or deploy access tokens and keys in source code repositories. I would say it feels like I have watched this movie before, but usually, organisations aren’t caught while actively involved in a cover-up. Putting the drama aside and the potential impacts of the upcoming GDPR enforcement, this is just another development team with poor security practices that have shared credentials. Sadly, this is common more often than not in agile development environments.”

Although the company did not reveal the exact details of the hack, Bloomberg has reported that two hackers were able to access a private area of Github, an online resource for developers. The cybercriminals then seemed to have found Uber’s log-in credentials to Amazon Web Services (Amazon’s cloud computing service).

Uber set up a resource page for those affected has been set up and drivers have been offered free credit monitoring protection. But as of now, affected customers will not be given the same resources.

“Uber isn’t the only and won’t be the last company to hide a data breach or cyber attack. Not notifying consumers puts them at greater risk of being victimised with fraud. It’s for precisely this reason that many countries are driving to regulations with mandatory breach disclosure,” said James Lyne, Sophos cybersecurity advisor.

In January 2016 Uber was fined $20,000 for failing to promptly disclose an earlier data breach that happened in 2014.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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Africa reacts to Mugabe’s resignation

Africa reacts to Mugabe’s resignation

Africa reacts to Mugabe’s resignation.

On Tuesday 21 November 2017, Robert Mugabe, the longtime president of Zimbabwe, resigned. His resignation came after a week-long struggle for power after the military in Zimbabwe implemented a coup.

Mugabe’s 37-year reign came to an end as he handed in a letter of resignation to parliament saying he wanted to ensure a peaceful transition, a week after army tanks descended on Harare.

The resignation came after Zimbabwe’s parliament convened on Tuesday in an effort to impeach Mugabe with all political parties and independent legislators pulling together towards their common goal, a Mugabe free Zimbabwe.

The meeting gathered so much interest that parliament had to be moved to the 5000-seater Harare International Conference Centre, and just before the day’s proceedings concluded Minister of Legal Affairs, Happyton Bonyongwe, arrived with the resignation letter.

“My decision to resign is voluntary on my part. My desire is to ensure a peaceful, non-violent transition,” read the letter by Mugabe, bringing an end to a tumultuous and turmoil-filled era in the country.

As the news started to emerge thousands of Zimbabweans, and thousands more from other Africa countries, began to celebrate the end of the 93-year-old’s presidency.

Many people took to Twitter to express their joy, here are the best reactions:

Celebrations have started in Zimbabwe after the announcement of Robert Mugabe’s resignation. #MugabeResigns #Mugabe #Zimbabwe #RobertMugabe pic.twitter.com/Y2DlLKMLvI

— Mikey Mashila (@MikeyMashila) November 21, 2017

It’s true, Mugabe has FINALLY resigned. #MugabeResigns #MugabeImpeachment pic.twitter.com/NN7sfwOgQd

— Cde. Dunga (@afrikanproudly) November 21, 2017

#zimbabwe#Mugaberesigns#MugabeImpeachment

That moment ‼️pic.twitter.com/h74cwOY3cD

— Tumi Sole (@tumisole) November 21, 2017

Even the ”GREAT” falls #Mugaberesigns as #Zimbabwe is headed for a brighter future Next is his best friend #Museveni pic.twitter.com/NEilbiV2eD

— Fauzia Mulimira (@fauziamulimira) November 22, 2017

Ian #Kharma President of #Botswana after hearing that #Mugabe has resigned #dance #Mugaberesigns #Zimbabwe pic.twitter.com/S5E5oTjet1

— Wellence Mujuru (@WellenceMujuru) November 22, 2017

Was Mugabe’s resignation part of the black Friday week special? #MugabeResigns

— The Queen (@AmandaHita) November 22, 2017

A very good morning to you my fellow Zimbabweans as we take our first steps into a New era…..#MugabeResigns#Zimbabwe pic.twitter.com/KMiPMI0res

— Cde Coup-a-kwashe (@Malvintipsy) November 22, 2017

Zimbabweans going home #MugabeResigns pic.twitter.com/iGJ65h7pF3

— Prince (@Khobzin1) November 22, 2017

Dear Zimbabweans:

For those of you who want to go back home and build, we are happy.

For those who consider SA home and want to stay, you are welcome.

This is our Africa. We all live here.#MugabeResigns

— Jamil F. Khan (@JamilFarouk) November 22, 2017

By Dean Workman
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discussing the changing landscape of artificial intelligence

discussing the changing landscape of artificial intelligence

Bruce Von Maltitz, co-founder of 1Stream.

Artificial intelligence isn’t about to pick up the laundry and drive the car in for repairs, but it is shifting the goalposts for contact centres thanks to incredible growth in chatbot availability and capability. AI and the solutions it enhances has become the gold rush of the Western world – a digital hunt for the customer experience oil that sits on the frontlines of chatbot capability and evolution. Amazon has released its increasingly impressive Alexa and Echo range of products, Microsoft has created a voice-activated speaker in partnership with Harmon Kardon, and Google has showcased such impressive advancements in AI that everyone has stopped to play with whatever it does next.

The statistics are as exciting as the inventions. According to Juniper Research, chatbots can potentially save the business as much as $US 8 billion by 2020. PwC has found that 31% of business executives believe virtual personal assistants will transform their business, and 27% of consumers were not entirely sure if their last customer service interaction was with a human or a chatbot.

“There are significant benefits to the rapid arrival of chatbots,” says Bruce Von Maltitz, co-founder of 1Stream. “Computers don’t take holidays, for example, and they don’t need smoke breaks. They are also inexpensive over the long term as they are essentially free once you’ve paid for the initial implementation. Chatbots are also set to solve a lot of the contact industry’s most pressing challenges.”

One of these challenges is the growing customer need to use the call centre or online chat feature to resolve problems rather than to just receive information. The use of chatbots in the call centre would free up the agents to provide more in-depth customer support while the automated features would respond to information-specific calls. Precise answers to clear questions are where chatbots shine.

“AI is exact and it doesn’t waffle or dodge questions or put people on hold because it doesn’t know the answer, it just provides the information and moves on,” adds Von Maltitz. “The computer either knows or it doesn’t and it can escalate the call to a human if it gets stuck. This would massively reduce waiting times and call loads, a great way to improve customer satisfaction.”

That said, the introduction of the chatbot will require a shift in call centre mindset. People wouldn’t be hired based on current criteria such as touch typing or matric, instead they would be selected based on their response to training and ability to engage with people. Databases would have to be adapted to ensure that chatbots have access to the data on demand, and ensure that it was the right data. It would also change how the call centre sees data – chatbots are introducing the first level of machine learning, they get better with every question they answer, so data becomes the differentiator.

“Unfortunately, chatbots are a technology that can fall through the call centre cracks,” he says. “Call centre agents and IT rarely see eye to eye – the former are looking for reporting and technology that make their lives easier, IT is looking for a stable and secure environment. Chatbots introduce a new dynamic that may not be sustainable if the culture doesn’t shift to include them.”

Chatbot integration demands that the company know how they want to use the solution, who will run their integration and implementation, and have executives who own the decision to ensure it becomes a part of the corporate culture. It is equally important to determine whether or not the current generation of chatbots are actually relevant to the business – some organisations may find that they don’t deliver solutions, only more challenges.

“In some companies it is less obvious as to why a chatbot would support their growth or customer engagement,” concludes Von Maltitz. “The best way forward is to find the champion within the company who can identify why it is needed and how it should be integrated and whether or not now is really the right time.”

The landscape is changing at a rapid rate. Microsoft, Amazon, IBM – they are all pushing the boundaries to unlock chatbot potential. The market is hungry for what could happen and the enterprises that invest are finding innovative ways of using chatbots to redefine their brands and customer engagement. The contact centre stands at a cross roads – invest now or wait? As the solutions become more capable, it may soon be that those who don’t invest will be left behind.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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Essential tips for preventing data breaches in 2018

Essential tips for preventing data breaches in 2018

Essential tips for preventing data breaches in 2018 (Image source: Specialized Security Services)

Hacking, data breaches: what’s the point in owning a luxury yacht if it leaks? That’s what many businesses are like, seeking state-of-the-art upgrades and slick interfaces but neglecting to secure business and customer data. 2017 has highlighted that many companies are vulnerable, and that hackers and fraudsters could sink those ships.

It’s not just the occasional data leak, one recent example from a South African real estate company exposed the personal data of over 30 million people, including ID numbers, addresses, passwords, salaries – just about anything you probably wouldn’t want to share with the world, since that information could be used by hackers to access your online profiles and accounts, allowing them to change passwords and operate as if they’re you.

A local journalist proved this by taking the leaked data of his colleague (with the colleague’s consent) and then contacting a contact centre. He was able to use the data to get “his” identity verified, after which he was able to view everything about his colleague, right down to his family’s medical history.

Please could you answer a few questions…
Central to the issue of data breaches that expose all sorts of company and client information is the means by which companies conduct identity verification in interactions with customers. So-called security questions may indicate that you are who you say you are, but if someone else knows your mother’s maiden name, the name of your first pet and the person you call most on your phone, they can easily impersonate you.

A more efficient means of identity verification gaining traction uses biometric identification, unique identifiers including fingerprints, hand geometry, earlobe geometry, retina and iris patterns, voice waves, DNA, and signatures.
Locally, companies are beginning to see the benefits of moving to voice recognition as a means of identification. Voice authentication works by recording the voice of the customer either in response to prompts or passively while the customer is on a voice call with the contact centre. This recording is converted into a sophisticated digital voice imprint unique to that customer. All inbound voice calls are also compared with a database of known fraudsters in real-time – enabling companies to pro-actively flag identity theft attempts before they occur.

This form of identity verification is secure and less invasive than other forms, and also reduces the time it takes to verify a person by as much as 70 percent. From your customer’s perspective, it replaces those frustrating questions that must be answered (sometimes multiple times within an interaction), so your customer can get straight to the point.

Blockchain technology – the next level?
Businesses are exploring the possibilities presented by Blockchain technology; while it’s yet to gain a foothold locally, this could revolutionise how we do business, particularly when it comes to security. This trust-based economy allows two people to verify identity within seconds by using data. In addition, it also creates a secure place to access contracts, documents, passport and driver’s license renderings and other information.

Like voice authentication, this would help to plug the holes in identity verification. We may not see Blockchain being applied in a local context in 2018, but its application is likely to gain traction in years to come.

Is your business “yacht” leakproof? Perhaps it’s time to examine how secure your data is, for the sake of you and your customers.

By Wynand Smit is CEO of INOVO, a leading contact centre business services provider.

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Infinix brings new phone model to Nigeria

Infinix brings new phone model to Nigeria

Infinix Zero 5 Press conference in Lagos. Left Region Channel Manager Solomon King, Marketing Communications manager Olamide Amosu, GTM Manager Infinix Mobility Sun Lee and Shirkey Liu Digital Marketing Mana

Sequel to the recent unveiling of Infinix Zero 5 model in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) last week, Chinese company, Infinix Nigeria, has launched the flagship model in Lagos.
  
Speaking on the model, Global Head of Infinix, Benjamin Jiang, said: “the Zero series at large has been our flagship product globally by virtue of its innovative feature and validates our research and development (R&D) prowess. It has witnessed brilliant performance in key global market such as Africa.”
 
Highlighting the vision of the firm, he said, “our vision is to take Smartphone photography to a level where it bridges the gap between amateur and professional photography.
 
“With the innovative design of the Zero 5, incredible dual camera, 2x optical zoom and overall performance, it bridges the narrowing gap between Smartphone and tablet, and we believe this new device speaks to the middle class consumer demand in the dual-camera Smartphone segment.
  
“The Zero 5 Smartphone is Infinix most high-end technologically- advanced product to date. The Chinese company will target a new generation of customer and firmly believe that the Zero 5 innovative design and feature particularly the camera will shock the industry and offer best-in-class products in the Smartphone sector.
 
“Using android’s nougat operating platform, the Zero 5 boasts an optical loom dual camera and massive 16MP front-facing camera, rear fingerprint scanner and protective screen feature.’’
 
The Zero 5 rear dual camera uses both a 12MP wide-angle lens and a 13 mp telephoto lens, with a 2x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom, and an f/2.0 aperture. There is also a special portrait Master Mode that uses an RGBW sensor and multi-frame noise reduction technology to assist users in capturing the perfect hero shot.
  
According to Jiang, the outstanding feature of the Zero 5 is unquestionably the front camera dubbed the selfie camera. The selfie camera is a mega 16MP four-in-one camera with an LED flash to boot, “in a market where the selfie is king and Instagram reigns supreme, Infinix expects the 16 MP front camera to take things to a new level and become a must have accessory for selfie lovers.”

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Ghana connects to Nigeria’s Internet Exchange point

Ghana connects to Nigeria’s Internet Exchange point

•Move will reduce cost, improve traffic
• Nigerian operator saves N20m monthly

Ghana Internet Exchange Point has connected to Nigerian’s Internet Exchange Point (IXPN) to route traffic locally within the region.While this process is on a vice-versa and partnership basis, The Guardian learnt that the move is expected to enhance the chances of Nigeria becoming the regional hub for Internet content in the region and the continent; it will also serve as an opportunity for both countries to reduce cost and improve latency on the route.
  
Further analysis showed that the Internet traffic destined for the two countries will now remain local, meaning that instead of the traffic coming from Ghana to Nigeria, which first goes to Europe or the Americas before returning to Africa, will come straight to the region.This way, there will be some cost saving, improvement service delivery, and making services safer.
    
Besides, should Nigeria become the Internet hub for Africa, it will help the country to create contents, especially local that can serve the international market, and enable it attract foreign investors. The Guardian gathered at the weekend that the IXPN is now the second largest in Africa, and the regional IXP for the West African region, a status allocated to it by the African Union.
   
An IXP is a physical infrastructure through, which Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), and other IP centric organisations exchange Internet traffic between their networks.The primary purpose of an IXP is to allow networks to interconnect with one another directly via the exchange rather than through one or more third-party networks.
 
The advantages of the direct interconnection are numerous, but the primary reasons are cost savings, reduce foreign exchange transaction, reduced latency, high bandwidth availability, security, improving routing efficiency and providing fault tolerance.
   
Already, it has been revealed that a leading service provider in Nigeria now saves over N20million by localising its traffic using the exchange point. These cost savings for the service providers will eventually translate to reduction cost of Internet access to Internet subscribers in the country.The Ghana-Nigeria deal is already confirmed in document presented by a former Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Prof. Cleopas Angaye, at an interaction programme on, “Improving Socioeconomic Development of a Nation Through Qualitative Telecommunications Services,” organised by the Senate Committee on Communications.

In the document, which was obtained by The Guardian, Angaye said the coming together of these two countries will attract other countries, which would enhance the chances of Nigeria being the regional HUB for Internet content in the region and the continent.
   
Angaye said during his tenure at NITDA, the agency supported the implementation of various IXPs in Nigeria, specifically in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Enugu, and Kano, to ensure even growth of Internet access across the country.“We need to do more to assist the IXPN especially in other regions of Nigeria so that all the benefits being enjoyed by service providers in Lagos can be extended to them,” he stated.
  
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, IXPN, Muhammed Rudman, who confirmed the connection with Ghana, told The Guardian that the exchange has connected about 45 top organizations in the country.

He said Ghana and Nigeria are working on collaborative efforts to exchange Internet traffic, saying it will give organisations in both countries easy access to each other’s content, while serving as a link to other parts of the world.Rudman said the move will attract foreign investors and content providers, saying that a major content provider would be coming to leverage the IXPN to expand its reach.
  
According to him, with traffic becoming local, there would be no need going to Europe first, before coming back to Nigeria, “such a move will help our data centres, business developers, content creators. This will ensure skills development, creation of more jobs, among others. Instead of first going to Google America to access traffic, it can now be done locally.”
  
He revealed that Nigeria being the largest country in Africa, has become a net importer of Internet content, “because there is more downloads than uploads, but with more exchange points and the country becoming a hub, there will be more uploads. So, other African countries can leverage the platform to expand.”         

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SWIFT Networks launches ICT solutions for SMEs

SWIFT Networks launches ICT solutions for SMEs

SWIFT Networks Limited, a broadband services provider has launched a suite of Information and Communications Technology products customised to support Nigerian SMEs.

These bundled solutions will reduce cost and give small businesses better control of their operations to drive efficiencies and growth.To operate under the sub-brand of SWIFT SMARTBusiness Kit, these all-in-one service bundles will consist of all the office and home connectivity, hosting and bespoke business software solutions available to small businesses in the market today.
 
“The product continues in SWIFT’s tradition of demystifying and simplifying technology to help unlock Nigeria’s abundant potential so that people can achieve more in their daily undertakings,” said the Managing Director, Charles Anud. 
 
“It is also user-friendly, and will resolve the problem of small businesses dealing with multiple vendors, who often present them with conflicting solutions that are not future-proof. With our solution, SMEs will obtain all their ICT solutions from a single trusted service provider with the industry’s best of

customer care team on one monthly bill,” said SWIFT Chief Operating Officer, Chukwuma Okoye.
“And because we are sure that our target- small businesses- will like this solution, SWIFT SMARTBusiness kit will come with a 30-day money back guarantee with no questions asked if the customer is not satisfied with the solution.”

He further added that “for the early birds, we shall throw in a free home internet access for the business for as long as the subscription is current.”A sample SWIFT Business Kit solution will consist of office (and free home) internet, web and e-mail hosting, attractive business and international travel voice call rates, à la carte business software modules for sales, accounting, customer relationship management, inventory management and human resource management. A customer can start with a basic plan, and either adds or dropped modules as the business evolves, as the solutions basket are well aligned and future-proof.

The product is specially targeted at businesses in the professional services, eCommerce, traditional retail, educational, healthcare, hospitality and cottage industries. The services will be distributed directly through SWIFT’s customer centres as well as those of its online and off-line channel partners. It will also be supported by a professional field sales team from SWIFT.

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Symantec warns of AI-enabled cyber crimes as malware variants hit 357m

Symantec warns of AI-enabled cyber crimes as malware variants hit 357m

Security software specialist, Symantec, expects artificial intelligence-enabled cyber attacks to cause an explosion of network penetrations, personal data thefts, and an epidemic-level spread of intelligent computer viruses in the coming years, leading to a full-fledged arms race between cyber criminals and security.
  
Senior Director at Symantec research labs, Brian Witten, said: “We think attackers are leveraging automation in building their attacks for a long time. In that sense, it is only a matter of time they start leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) a lot more aggressively. It will be their AI against our AI and whoever builds the smartest AI will end up winning the arms race.”
  
Many cyber security firms are using recent advances in AI and machine learning (ML), to secure systems and data of their clients as attacks get more complex and sophisticated causing unprecedented levels of disruption.
 
“It is important to recognise that a lot of companies in the security industry have started leveraging AI to make individual products more effective and for not only detecting malware, spam and phishing, but also security operations,” said Witten. “Cyber criminals are getting smarter and they are relying on AI to stage attacks.”
   
The number of malware variants jumped 357 million in 2016 from 275 million two years earlier; email malware rate also soared from 1 in 244 to 1 in 131 during the same period, according to a report by Symantec in April this year. Ransomware detections touched 463,841 in 2016.
 
“One of the things driving them to apply AI and ML to security operations is there are not many security experts in the world for hiring. AI doubles the effectiveness of human security experts. It is amazing. Humans with the help of AI are able to detect all kinds of attacks that human alone could not detect,” said Witten.He believes that AI should handle tonnes of data, letting humans focus on strategy.
  
In a recent blog post, McAfee Chief Technology Officer, Steve Grobman, wrote that in the field of cyber security, as long as there is a shortage of human talent, the industry must rely on technologies such as AI and ML to amplify the capabilities of the humans.
 
He, however, added that as long as there are human adversaries behind cybercrime and cyber warfare, there will always be a critical need for human intellect teamed with technology.
 

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Taxify begins operations in Abuja

Taxify begins operations in Abuja

Taxify app

Taxify, a fast-growing ride-sharing app platform in Europe and Africa launches in Abuja with hundreds of driver-partners signed up to the platform and ready to accept rides all across the city. To celebrate, Taxify is offering a 40 per cent discount to riders during the month of November.

Taxify’s Operations Manager, Uche Okafor, comments: “Abuja is an exciting and thriving market with an outgoing population for private urban transport. We’re very excited to launch here and have a solid team on ground. We are confident that Taxify can effectively contribute to healthy competition by improving the quality of service and lowering the prices for the end customer.”

Taxify takes only 15 per cent commission from its drivers, compared to the 25 per cent that competitors take. The lower commission allows Taxify to offer lower prices for riders and ensure that drivers still keep more money in their pockets.

Taxify treats our drivers better so that they can in turn treat our riders better. Taxify does this by ensuring that drivers are able to earn more driving on our platform than on any other platform. This combined with our end to end support ensures that our drivers are happier driving on Taxify and are ultimately able to provide better quality service for riders. Taxify also believes in providing exemplary customer service to riders, with a local customer support team that offers real time over the phone support.

Taxify is an international urban ride-sharing platform founded and headquartered in Tallinn, Estonia. Taxify is operating in 20 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Central America. Taxify has a global team of over 300 employees, and is considered one of the fastest-growing ride-sharing platforms in Europe and Africa.

In August 2017, Taxify announced a strategic partnership with Didi Chuxing, the world’s leading mobile transportation platform. The Taxify app is available on iOS and Android.

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Itel unveils latest smartphones

Itel unveils latest smartphones

iTel S32

To celebrate its 10th year anniversary, itel Mobile Technology has launched into the Nigerian mobile market its latest models, S32 and S12.The two models is an upgrade on the previous products, as both come with dual selfie cameras, and finger print sensor for selfie freaks.
 
The phone comes with a 5.5 HD IPS display, 2.5 D curve display touch, 8.0MP rear cameras and live filters, front soft light, android TM 7.0 nougat, 1GB RAM, 16GB ROM, Quad core, 1.3 GHz processor and 3000mAh battery.
 
Speaking at the unveiling in Lagos, the Marketing Communications Manager, itel Mobile, Oke Umurhowo, said, the new itel selfie centric phones are affordable, sleek and of high quality.

“At itel mobile, we understand the demand of our customers, hence the reason we are introducing the most affordable dual selfie camera phones in Africa. These new itel phones come with an innovative front camera that can accommodate more people in a single selfie,” he said.
 
Umurhohwo continued: “Compared to the previous S31, the latest S32 boast of 63 degree portrait lens for solo selfie and an ultra-wide 86 degree angle lens, which makes it easy for users to take group selfies.”
 
Also speaking on the brand, the Country Manager, itel Mobile, William Haung, said, understanding the market is key to the brand’s success as the brand has understood the major needs for African consumers.He added that year on year, the mobile phone firm rolled out affordable and reliable mobile phones without compromising on quality, noting that itel has always put customers at the fore of their business.

“We believe that by providing customers with affordable, reliable and trendy mobile devices, we can allow more people to get connected with the rest of the world in an efficient way. With such belief in mind, itel is continually making efforts to get closer to customers and understand their need and expectations in different ways,” he added.Haung added that the added that the brand has engaged in Corporate Social Responsibility in giving back to the community, which is also at its core philosophy.
 

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