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‘Money Swallowing’ Snake Becomes Internet Sensation

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Nigerian social media space is buzzing after a local portal reported in Saturday that a government official had blamed a mysterious snake for missing funds of over $100,000, that is some N36 million.

 

The mysterious snake has become one of the most trending topics on social media after it got a Twitter account.

 

The funds belong to Nigeria’s Joints Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), a state agency responsible for the registration of admission of people seeking to enter the various universities.

 

The particular incident took place at the JAMB offices in Makurdi, capital of Benue State where an account’s clerk in answering audit queries said her housemaid and a fellow employee had confessed to using a snake to ‘spiritually’ stealing the monies she kept in an office vault.

 

Auditors from Abuja had been sent to take inventory of funds accrued over the sale of scratch cards to students hoping to gain access to JAMB’s website to register or check on the status of their admissions. The audit came up after reforms by the current registrar struck out use of the cards.

 

Nigerians on social media are looking at different sides of the strange issue. There are those looking at the political, the social, the corrupt, the miraculous and even the fun aspect of the incident. A Twitter user @NigerianSnake says in his bio: “I am the snake that ate N36 million from Jamb office. I will not vomit it.”

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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Alleged Nigerian Hackers Steal from Shipping Firms

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Nigerian hackers, grouped as Gold Galleon, are menacing shipping firms and bleeding them of thousands of dollars.

 

Network security firm Secureworks has red-flagged the group, whose focus appears solely to be the maritime industry.

 

The group, according to a report by Maritime Executive, an online platform, uses basic email scams and publicly available hacking software to try to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting ship managers and service providers.

 

Secureworks said Gold Galleon is a group of about 20 individuals who work together to hack maritime firms all over the world using basic techniques.

 

They rent hacking tools for just a few dollars per month; they communicate via Skype; and they identify targets using online company directories and commercially-available contact lists.

 

While the criminal gang uses an online proxy service to disguise its location, several cues indicate that it is of Nigerian origin, Secureworks said.

 

The group communicates in Nigerian Pidgin, an English creole language, and it uses phrases associated with a Nigerian social organization called the “Buccaneeers Confraternity” for usernames and passwords.

 

Once the group has identified a new target, it sends a spearphishing email carefully tailored to the recipient. The email has an attachment containing malware, which deploys on the unsuspecting victim’s computer and logs his or her keystrokes, recording the username and password for the victim’s business email account.

 

Once the account is compromised, the group uses a software tool to collect all the email addresses with which that user has had an interaction, and it sets itself up to intercept business transactions between the user and his or her clients.

 

Many maritime firms use email to handle invoicing and payment details. When the Gold Galleon group sees payment details relayed on an invoice in a compromised email account, it intercepts the invoice, alters the account numbers to direct the money to its own “mule” bank account instead, and uses a similarly-worded email address to send the altered request on its way to the intended recipient.

 

Often, the buyer will not detect the change to the sender’s email address and the bank details, and will simply pay the fraudulent invoice.

 

In one case study, the group was able to steal email usernames and passwords for eight employees at a South Korean shipping firm, including the accountant’s account.

 

Gold Galleon members monitored the company’s financial transactions to gain familiarity with its billing cycles and clients.

 

Then, when the South Korean firm initiated a $50,000 “cash to master” transaction to deliver money to one of its vessels, a Gold Galleon hacker impersonated the recipient and asked for payment to be sent to a “subsidiary account for now” because of unspecified bank issues.

 

Secureworks was monitoring the exchange and notified the parties involved that they were being hacked, and it thwarted two subsequent attempts on the same firm – one for $234,000 and another for $325,000.

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HID Global Unveils e-ID Cards to Ease Movements in ECOWAS

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HID Global®, a worldwide leader in trusted identity solutions, has introduced an end-to-end solution for national e-ID cards that complies with the recommendations provided by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as well as all international standards for travel identity documents.

 

The solution gives ECOWAS nations greater options for launching e-ID programs that will enable their citizens to travel easily within this sub-region of Africa.

 

“HID offers government agencies in the ECOWAS region the choice to directly source cards or buy specific components to fulfill their e-ID Card programs,” said Manuel Deloche, Vice President Product Marketing, Citizen ID Solutions with HID Global.

 

“We provide a one-stop shop for everything from polycarbonate inlays and cards to chips and a Common Criteria-certified chip operating system, all aligned with ECOWAS recommendations. HID Global can either support national governments directly or work hand-in-hand with regional partners to ensure a successful project.”

 

Per ECOWAS guidelines, the HID card and inlay options use polycarbonate materials, include an aluminum watermark and are compatible with inductive coupling dual-interface chip technology so there is no physical contact between the card’s module and antenna. HID cards and cards made using HID components have been fully tested against ISO24789 requirements for a minimum 10-year lifespan.

 

HID’s ECOWAS solutions offer the option of including the company’s Mirage™ level 1 security feature. Mirage™ is a 5-in-1 security feature including negative laser engraving, window protection, bi-color metallic effects, customizable design options and a window seal. The bundles also include a Common Criteria-certified SOMATM chip operating system supporting ICAO national e-ID applications, digital signatures, and “match-on-card” capabilities.

 

The ECOWAS national e-ID card initiative spans more than 500 million citizens from the nations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’ Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo.

 

Several countries have started their national e-ID implementations and others are expected to initiate programs soon. These programs are aimed at making travel more convenient for citizens while also promoting economic integration among ECOWAS member states.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BetaSMS Unveils Apps to Boost Revenue for Small Business

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A Lagos-based mobile marketing company, BetaSMS has unveiled a set of industry-leading business-oriented applications – WasherMEN and iPrefect – to help the operators of small and medium scale enterprises in their drive for increased revenue generation.

The applications are designed to increase the productivity of business owners giving them more control, encourage lean operations, reduce overhead costs and generate more profit to keep them in business.

Ajibola Awojobi, Managing Director of BetaSMS, said: “WasherMEN was built after we noticed an increased number of Laundry Start-ups had become increasingly dependent on SMS to notify customers for pick-up of their clothes.

We decided to create more value for such by building the application to ensure smooth running of their businesses.”

On iPerfect, Adebimpe Ayoola, Head, Communications, BetaSMS, said: “We decided to create this solution because of the incessant complaints of missing students’ files and records as well as difficulty in tracking students’ performances and behaviour.

This solution will help keep records for various institutions, simplify the enquiry processes and help instil discipline amongst students.”

WasherMEN is laundry management software designed with the one-man business model in mind but has the capacity to handle both commercial and industrial laundry activities.

iPrefect, on the other hand, is a school automation software built for every educational institute – colleges, universities, training schools- and aims to improve management’s understanding and interaction with students all through their duration in the school while reducing the workforce needed to achieve same. The solution will enable education institutions to perform all activities in the cloud.

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