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Africa in Danger of Digital Disruption- Ekeh



Mr. Leo-Stan Ekeh, chairman of Zinox Group

Serial digital entrepreneur and Chairman of Zinox Group,  Leo Stan Ekeh has raised the alarm over an impending digital disruption in Africa occasioned by the challenges of mass unemployment and the failure of most African states to match the rapid pace of digital evolution.

He made this call during a breakfast talk with select entrepreneurs from Africa and Asia in Dubai Marina on Sunday.

Ekeh, a renowned digital enthusiast and global advisor to Microsoft, disclosed that Africa has barely 13 and a half years to avert the impending disruption which may throw the continent into the proverbial Dark Ages.

“19 years ago, I had warned on the need for Nigerians and Africa, as a whole, to wake up from a self-imposed slumber and follow the pace of digital evolution. How? By creating resources that will empower more ventures for employment of our teeming youthful population. This is essential because the rise of computing and the coming age of super-computers is bound to take many jobs away while making others redundant.

“This warning was largely unheeded as only a few paid attention. As at today you have over A million high tech incubation centers in Asia alone while Africa has less than 500 and must of them less equipped and politically driven. But we are beginning to see the consequences today.

Unemployment is rife and has transformed into a major problem confronting many African economies with no concrete solution in sight. With the global pace of advancements in ICT, the situation is bound to worsen. Many more hands and jobs will be displaced by technology and the failure to expand and create more industries to accommodate these losses will be felt more harshly,” he posited.

Ekeh’s position was echoed in a recent presentation by Luc Cortebeeck, Vice-President, Governing Body of the International Labour Organization (ILO) who mentioned new technology as one of the major challenges facing the future of work. Cortebeeck disclosed that the world is suffering an official unemployment rate of 210 million people, with an estimated 600 million extra jobs needed to fill the gap by 2030.

According to Ekeh, Africa has a limited period of time in which to act to avoid being left behind by the rest of the world.

“A major digital disruption will happen in Africa 13 and half years from today. Last year, we had about 15 years left but it is now 13 and a half years for this disruption to climax for those not prepared. The signs are already here. Internet of Things is progressing at a high speed; major countries are investing in robots and what I regard as digital oracles such as IBM Watson, and others to replace humans in many areas of endeavour including law, warehousing, factories, medicine, security, traffic control etc.

“The major concern for Africa is that this might cause a revolution as investors will have no choice than to prefer robots for example over humans to run their operations. Remember, robots are not dumb and deaf; they do not go to church, night vigils, mosques or village meetings; they don’t belong to labour unions and social clubs, do not technically fall sick and only require servicing every 37 days; hence more productive than humans.

“In my hunger to anticipate and prepare for the future, I lost millions of dollars with other investors from Europe and Middle East in Asia last year in our research on advanced technology but please note that, many others with critical infrastructure at their places of birth are succeeding.  Mine was a focus on solutions to avert disaster that could erupt in my country not too long from today. We lost money as a result of the lack of certified research incubators and credible local database of certified knowledge workers in Africa.  A lot of us had to engage in research in Asia to find solutions to advanced technology and robotics because of their hunger to lead the world from the second quarter of this century.

“If Africa does not prepare for robotics, the continent will be completely displaced by quality goods from Asia and other continents at cheaper prices. As we speak, Google and Tesla are making huge progress with the assembling of driver-less cars using robots while advancing in technology for remote charging of electric cars – a move that will radically change the way we live, commute and completely eliminate the use of petrol and drivers. In another 10 years, most corporates will deploy these cars without drivers and zero fuel which shall drastically reduce the cost of doing business and shareholders will celebrate their management. 

The question then is: who will purchase tech products coming out from Africa in a few years’ time since these will be considered sub-standard and too expensive?”

While urging the participating entrepreneurs not to lose hope, he noted that the sweeping digital upheavals is a learning curve for them.
“Most of you from Asia may be partially disrupted but you have the tact to realign. However, my biggest fear is for most African countries whose leaders and private sectors are not anticipating a light-weight but wealth filled future. It will be a disaster to deny their citizens the right to wealth which is the core strength of this century in which no one is created by God to be poor.

“For those of who are Nigerians, some of you migrated to the UAE and Asia for survival but you must enhance you profile with skills to anticipate the future. You have earned exposure and a level of confidence but you must quickly skill up and return home to lead those of us with analogue businesses and mentality. It is clear that any company that would survive in the third quarter of this century must be a technology company: hotels, airlines, banks, etc. shall all transit to technology companies. 

“In spite of the depressed economy, we have globally celebrated corporate giants in Nigeria such as the Dangote Group, Globacom, just to mention a few, so there is no better time to start thinking of bringing home digital civilization.  Consider the booming youthful population, growing sophistication and literacy levels, desire to live well and lifestyle patterns –  these are major factors that make Nigeria the best place to invest in and reap bountifully.

“Do not be discouraged by the number of billionaires in the system but wake up to the opportunity to create legitimate mega wealth. In Nigeria, these opportunities are limitless as I started there from zero to become somebody today. My story shall be documented soon,” he concluded.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Visa Launches ID Intelligence for Smarter Customer Authentication



Visa has launched Visa ID Intelligence, a platform that lets issuers, acquirers and merchants quickly adopt emerging authentication technologies, according to a press release.

Available through Visa Developer Platform, Visa ID Intelligence offers a curated selection of third-party authentication technologies that feature simple integration with Visa APIs and SDKs. This allows clients to create, test and adopt new authentication solutions.

This ultimately helps financial institutions and merchants to adopt effective and secure solutions and accelerate time-to-market with streamlined on boarding and implementation through Visa as a single trusted source, the company said.

Visa ID Intelligence features include: Identity Documents— the platform evaluates identification documents and matches selfies to photo IDs, while extracting document information and converting it into digital form.

Uses include creating new accounts, and performing password reset and lost or stolen card replacement.

-Biometrics — Visa ID Intelligence allows clients to use eye, face, fingerprint and voice to meet consumer needs for convenience, security and speed in authentication.

Uses include app login, payments, step-up authentication, and more.

“Traditional methods for authenticating a customer can create frustration or are simply not designed for the new ways people are shopping and paying. We built Visa ID Intelligence to help accelerate smarter and easy-to-use authentication solutions for any commerce environment — to better protect against fraud and to move closer to a world without passwords,” Mark Nelson, Visa senior vice president of risk and authentication products, said in the release.

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ESET Works With Google To Protect Chrome Against Dangerous Malware



By peter oluka

ESET, a leading global cybersecurity company, on Thursday launches Chrome Cleanup, a new scanner and cleaner for Google Chrome designed to help users browse the web safely and without interruption.

Chrome Cleanup will be available for all Google Chrome users running on Windows.

As cyber-attacks become more complex and difficult to spot, browsing the web can lead users to dangerous sites which can install malicious software onto devices.

Chrome Cleanup will alert Google Chrome users to potential threats when it detects unwanted software.

Google Chrome will then give users the option to remove the software. Chrome Cleanup operates in the background, without visibility or interruptions to the user. It deletes the software and notifies the user once the cleanup has been successfully completed.

“Using the internet should always be a smooth and safe experience for everyone,” said Juraj Malcho, chief technology officer at ESET. “For three decades, ESET has developed a number of security solutions that allow users to safely enjoy their technology and to mitigate a variety of cyber threats. Chrome Cleanup addresses unwanted software that can negatively influence a users’ experience on the internet.”

Chrome Cleanup is included in the latest version of Google Chrome. For more information about these tools, read Google’s blog post, here.

For 30 years, ESET® has been developing industry-leading IT security software and services for businesses and consumers worldwide.

With solutions ranging from endpoint and mobile security, to encryption and two-factor authentication, ESET’s high-performing, easy-to-use products give consumers and businesses the peace of mind to enjoy the full potential of their technology.

ESET unobtrusively protects and monitors 24/7, updating defenses in real-time to keep users safe and businesses running without interruption. Evolving threats require an evolving IT security company.

Backed by R&D centers worldwide, ESET becomes the first IT security company to earn 100 Virus Bulletin VB100awards, identifying every single “in-the-wild” malware without interruption since 2003.

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A Buyer’s Market in the Global Economics of DDoS Attacks



It’s a buyer’s market in the local property arena at the moment, according to certain industry experts.


This is largely as a result of the slower economy, which has seen a rise in the number of properties for sale.


But did you know that globally, it’s a buyer’s market as well when we look at the economics of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks? The second, of course, is an underground market, largely regarded as a criminal one.


So said Bryan Hamman, Arbor Network’s territory manager for Sub-Saharan Africa.


Referring to recently released information from Arbor Networks, he said, “It is interesting to analyse the current economics in global DDoS attacks, which are attempts to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. Most people who are aware of DDoS attacks understand that there will be a perpetrator and a target.


“However, we’re now seeing a growing number of third-party providers of DDoS attacks as a service, who advertise their abilities online in order to either sell would-be attackers access to the tools needed to conduct a DDoS attack, or who perform the attack themselves on the customer’s behalf and provide reports afterwards.”


Hamman noted  that the fees of these underworld providers are lessening, due to rapidly expanding competition and the supply of readily available attack resources such as botnets. As a result, he says, the DDoS business is currently a buyer’s market.


Arbor reported that the prices for attack services, sometimes called “stressers” or “booters” vary widely, as do estimates of the total cost of an attack to the victim. But the economics are simple: DDoS attacks are becoming cheaper than ever for the perpetrator; are extremely lucrative for the attack service provider, and potentially financially devastating for the target.


Arbor noted that an increasing number of operators resemble legitimate service provider infrastructures with significant computing power, typically running their own botnet armies to unleash DDoS attacks. Perpetrators can essentially rent the providers’ botnets by the hour, day or week, or in some cases can buy a specific number of bots outright. The mechanics of transactions follow a classic web service model, meaning the perpetrator and the provider need never come in contact.


Providers that conduct attacks-as-a-service even post their services online, with tiered pricing reflecting the different types of attack that they offer. Prices are based on several factors. They can include the duration of the attack, the perceived value of the target, the country in which the attack takes place and/or the different methodologies employed.


In Arbor Networks 12th annual Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report, 59 percent of respondents estimated their downtime costs as being more than USD500/ minute in lost revenue (some ZAR6,700 per minute with the rand/dollar exchange rate on around ZAR13.50 to the dollar), with some indicating even higher losses. This also does not factor in the costs of repairing the damage, potential legal costs of settling with customers denied service, or reputational damage to the company’s brand.


Hamman concluded, “Here in South Africa, we may not yet face the overtness of DDoS operators advertising their services, as can be seen in the US. However, this does not mean that local companies shouldn’t be vigilant against DDoS attacks – protection is more vital than ever. A hybrid solution that combines on-premises and cloud-based protection is the industry best practice in DDoS defence. When you accept that DDoS attacks aren’t going away, and in fact are projected to escalate, it makes the best economic sense of all to make sure that you are adequately prepared against a DDoS attack.”


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