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Digital Assistants Will Outnumber Us All by 2021- Report

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The number of devices with digital assistants built-in will grow to over 7.5 billion in 2021, according to new forecasts by the research and consulting firm Ovum. That just surpasses the current world population, according to the US Census Bureau.

In their analysis, Ovum breaks out the various digital assistants and discusses their past and future. In 2016, about 3.5 billion active devices were already on the market, says Ovum, and that number will grow quickly as more types of devices introduce digital assistants.

For instance, most of the devices hosting digital assistants on them right now are phones, but with the rise of smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, smart TVs and connected cars, the territory for assistants to claim will only grow.

Ovum predicts that Google Assistant will reign supreme in the digital assistant realm, followed by Chinese assistants, Siri and surprisingly Samsung Bixby. These predictions are likely due to the large share of devices that phones represent. Further behind will be assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana.

One of the biggest variables that will affect these outcomes is language and international presence. Ovum noted that around 95% of Alexa and Google Assistant installations are in North America, whereas it’s closer to 24% for Siri. With the massive markets in Asia and even emerging markets in parts of Africa, the question will be who best taps into the international consciousness and provides the most universal vocal interface. For now, that remains to be seen.

IFC, Google, Others Invest in CSquared to Improve Broadband in Africa
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, Google Inc., Convergence Partners, and Mitsui & Co. have agreed to invest up to $100 million in CSquared, a partnership focused on deploying wholesale, carrier-neutral, open-access fiber optic networks across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The investment will help improve broadband connectivity in a region where the lack of dependable internet access impairs economic growth, competitiveness, and the development of basic services. It will expand Google’s existing operations in Uganda and Ghana, with the goal of entering several new markets over the next five years.  

The investment is part of IFC’s Digital Infrastructure Initiative, which aims to increase internet access in under served regions. Improving broadband connectivity through the Digital Infrastructure Initiative is a priority for the World Bank Group—better broadband penetration has a direct impact on GDP growth, increases productivity and transparency, and helps bridge the gender gap.

Fiber optic cable, however, is expensive—just one kilometer can cost between $15,000 and $30,000—and Africa needs at least half a million more kilometers. Deploying and operating infrastructure on a shared basis—Csquared’s business model—can help lower installation and consumer costs. CSquared aims to offer high-quality, affordable wholesale services to all licensed operators.

CSquared has built more than 800 km of fiber in Kampala and Entebbe, Uganda; and more than 840 km of fiber in the Ghanaian cities of Accra, Tema, and Kumasi. More than 25 internet service providers and mobile network operators now use the company’s fiber networks to offer broadband services and 4G data to end users, with over 1,200 tower and commercial building sites connected directly to CSquared’s fiber infrastructure.

“This project demonstrates IFC’s commitment to increasing affordable and reliable internet access under the global Digital Infrastructure Initiative,” said Aniko Szigetvari, Global Head of Telecom, Media and Technology Investments at IFC.

“By supporting broadband business models that promote shared infrastructure, the initiative will reduce entry barriers and deployment costs in the telecommunications sector, increase affordability, and enable the development of digital economies.”

Marian Croak, Vice-President at Google said: “We believe that together under CSquared, we can get more done to roll-out and operate affordable, high-speed, and reliable infrastructure to expand internet access in Africa. Project Link is demonstrating the impact of shared wholesale infrastructure, and we’re excited to see CSquared bring more infrastructure to more service providers and their customers.”

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

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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

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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

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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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