$17.4bn wiped off Zuckerberg’s fortune

By Melanie Kramer for Money Makers

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has lost $17.4 billion, suffering from Facebook’s reputation and share price this year. He’s not the only billionaire to lose out in 2018, but he’s currently the most famous and has certainly lost more than any other.

Zuckerberg has dropped from being the third-richest person in the world to becoming the sixth richest, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index. Zuckerberg now has a net worth of $55.3 billion.

The Facebook founder has faced increasing criticism over the ongoing Cambridge Analytica data scandal and Facebook’s response to the apparent social media influence exerted by Russia in US elections.

Data privacy is still an unresolved issue in the eyes of many global governments. Some seek answers over how their citizen’s personal information is handled and how Facebook will prevent illicit behavior in the future.

Just two weeks ago the UK and Canadian Parliaments summoned Zuckerberg to personally answer their questions, in an unprecedented joint move.

Facebook shares fell 3% on Friday to their lowest point since April 2017, and to a value of $139.53.

The latest fall in Facebook’s share price followed a call last week by four US Democratic senators to answer questions about Facebook’s use of contractors to spread “intentionally inflammatory information.”

According to reports, Facebook had hired a consulting firm founded by Republican strategists as part of its response to the concerns over Russian meddling. The firm’s subsequent actions are under scrutiny.

Zuckerberg’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is a major US political donor and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz has also donated over $35 million to Democratic and Liberal candidates and groups.

SA’s FinChatBot startup secures R7m investment

Source: Tech Financials

South African venture capital firm Kalon Venture Partners and Mauritius-based Compass Venture Capital announced on Monday that they have invested $500 000 (over R7-million) in financial services chatbot provider, FinChatBot.

FinChatBot develops chatbots to help financial service providers acquire and retain customers through artificial intelligence-powered conversations.

It has proven in less than two years that the acquisition of new customers via automated chat conversations have a much higher success rate than any other channel.

FinChatBot will utilize the investment to continue its rapid growth and expand its client pipeline.

Founded in 2016, FinChatBot has developed and services chatbot experiences for more than ten top-tier insurers and banks in South Africa.

“By implementing our chatbots, financial services providers are able to increase their conversion rates, reduce operational costs and gather more data about customers which can be used for product innovation and customer retention.,” said Antoine Paillusseau, FinChatBot cofounder.

Reflecting on the significance of this investment by two of the southern hemispheres most respected venture capital firms, Paillusseau said: “It’s a significant vote of confidence in our vision for FinChatBot and I am extremely excited to learn from and grow with our partners.”

Standard Bank to retrench 526 IT workers

By Kabelo Khumalo for IOL 

South Africa’s jobs bloodbath is raging with Standard Bank today announcing that the restructuring of its IT division will see more than 500 workers sacrificed.

Standard Bank spokesperson Ross Linstrom says of the impacted permanent staff, the majority are in the executive and managerial bands.

“This process will result in 526 IT employees receiving Section 189 notices which will commence the consultative process with the employees involved”.

“This process will create over 180 new-generation IT positions within the bank. Regrettably, this will also result in the loss of a number of existing traditional IT positions,” Linstrom said.

The bank said the restructuring was instigated by “emerging technologies and increased demands from customers”.

The unrelenting jobs bloodbath seems to be gathering steam. Power Utility Eskom has already announced plans to cut its workforce, the SABC has said it would have to let go of more than 1 000 workers for it to keep afloat. Telkom’s subsidiary BCX last week also joined the bandwagon and warned that it will retrench about 700 employees.

Ironically, as part of stemming the jobs bloodbath, all stakeholders at the Jobs Summit held last month had committed themselves to concrete steps to avoid retrenchments and support struggling companies.

Source: The Citizen

WhatsApp vice president Chris Daniels confirmed at an event in New Delhi, India earlier this week that the popular messaging app will start showing users ads in the app’s status feature come 2019.

The WhatsApp status feature was launched early last year to mimic Snapchat’s stories feature which was later co-opted by Instagram and Facebook and it allows users to share text, photos, videos and animated GIFs that disappear after 24 hours.

According to India’s Economic Times, Daniels told journalists “we are going to be putting ads in ‘Status’. That is going to be primary monetisation mode for the company as well as an opportunity for businesses to reach people on WhatsApp.”

The new feature will take effect in 2019 but Daniels could not lock down an exact date.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s goal to monetise WhatsApp has forced the social media messaging service’s co-founders to leave the company reports Economic Times.

On of the app’s co-founders Brian Acton told Forbes that the move would undermine elements of WHatsapp’s encryption technology and that Zuckerberg was in a rush to make money from the app after purchasing it for $19 billion four years ago.

By Lily Hay Newman for Wired 

For two hours on Monday, internet traffic that was supposed to route through Google’s Cloud Platform instead found itself in quite unexpected places, including Russia and China. But while the haphazard routing invoked claims of traffic hijacking—a real threat, given that nation states could use the technique to spy on web users or censor services—the incident turned out to be a simple mistake with outsized impacts.

Google noted that almost all traffic to its services is encrypted, and wasn’t exposed during the incident no matter what. As traffic pinballed across ISPs, though, some observers, including the monitoring firm ThousandEyes, saw signs of malicious BGP hijacking—a technique that manipulates the web’s Border Gateway Protocol, which helps ISPs automatically collaborate to route traffic seamlessly across the web.

ThousandEyes saw Google traffic rerouting over the Russian ISP TransTelecom, to China Telecom, toward the Nigerian ISP Main One. “Russia, China, and Nigeria ISPs and 150-plus [IP address] prefixes—this is obviously very suspicious,” says Alex Henthorne-Iwane, vice-president of product marketing at ThousandEyes. “It doesn’t look like a mistake.”

Malicious BGP hijacking is a serious concern, and can be exploited by criminals or nation state actors to intercept traffic or disrupt a target service—like Google. But the technique also has a dopey, well-intentioned cousin known as a prefix leak, or sometimes “accidental BGP hijacking.”

In both cases, rerouting occurs when an ISP declares that it owns blocks of IP addresses that it doesn’t actually control. This can be an intentional deception, but can also simply come down to a configuration error that, while disruptive, is not intentional. On Monday, a Google spokesperson said that the company didn’t see signs of malicious hijacking, and instead suspected that the Nigerian ISP Main One had accidentally caused the problem.

“The problem here is a failure to apply basic best current practices to these routing sessions.”

There are minimum best practices that ISPs should implement to keep BGP routes on the up and up. These are important, because they apply filters that catch errors in the event of a route leak and block problematic routes. Not all ISPs implement these protections, though, and in a prefix leak like the one that affected Google, traffic will flow chaotically across networks, not based on efficiency or established paths, but based on which networks haven’t put the BGP safeguards in place and will therefore accept the rogue routing.

Indeed, on Tuesday morning Main One said in a statement that, “This was an error during a planned network upgrade due to a misconfiguration on our BGP filters. The error was corrected within 74mins.”

In this case, it appears that the Russian and Chinese ISPs, and perhaps others as well, offered a path to the Google traffic because they hadn’t implemented protective configurations.

The protocols underlying the internet were written decades ago, in a different era of computing, and many have needed major security overhauls and additions to improve trust and reliability around the web. There was the effort to encrypt web traffic with HTTPS, and the growing movement to secure the internet’s Domain Name System address lookup process so it can’t be used to spy on users, or for malicious rerouting.

Similarly, ISPs and internet infrastructure providers are starting to implement a protection called Resource Public Key Infrastructure that can virtually eliminate BGP hijacking, by creating a mechanism to cryptographically confirm the validity of BGP routes. Like HTTPS and DNSSEC, RPKI will only start to provide true customer protection when a critical mass of internet infrastructure providers implement it.

“This incident had a non-trivial impact because Google and some other prominent network routes were accidentally leaked,” says Roland Dobbins, a principal engineer at the network analysis firm Netscout. “But the problem here, as it is in most of these cases, is a failure to apply basic best current practices to these routing sessions. The key is for network operators to participate in the global operational community, get these kinds of filters put in place, and move to implement RPKI.”

While Google’s incident wasn’t a hack and instead gets into obscure internet protocol drama, the impact for users on Monday was apparent—and shows the pressing need to resolve issues with BGP trust. The flaw has been maliciously hijacked before, and could be again.

Discovery launches new ‘tech-led’ bank

Source: Fin24

Discovery has launched its much anticipated bank, hailed as the first in rewarding good financial behaviour.

Speaking at the launch of Discovery Bank at the firm’s headquarters in Johannesburg, CEO Adrian Gore said, “The purpose of the bank is making people healthy in a financial sense”.

“It is a tech-led bank that is aimed at incentivising behavioural change,” said Gore.

He said the bank would be mobile-led and accessed from your phone. It will also be linked to the company’s Vitality Rewards programme.

“Everything is on the face of the app, the functionality is amazing with real time EFT payment to all banks,” he said.

Gore said, however, they would not be disclosing the bank fees as yet.

He said 10% of the bank would be owned by black depositors, adding however that it was not a BEE scheme.

In terms of the interest rates structure, Gore said it would be market-related combined with the client’s vitality status.

Clients would also be able to withdraw cash at any ATM while Gore said there are plans to set up one branch inside the company’s Sandton offices.

He said the bank’s target market was “very broad” – from a high LSM to the lower level.

Source: Fin24

South African businesses of all sizes, including educational institutions, have been particularly hard hit by an onslaught of cyber-attacks, although this is not always public knowledge, according to Kerry Curtin, cyber risk expert at Aon South Africa.

Cyber risk was ranked as the #1 risk facing educational institutions and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future, according to Aon’s 2018 global risk management survey.

Curtin says the potential theft or leakage of data, particularly confidential information in an educational setting, should be top of the list in risk planning.

“The need to strengthen institutional resiliency against potential damage, compromising hacks and downtime is crucial,” she adds.

This is because schools, like any other business, are increasingly dependent on technology. The knock-on effect of a cyber incident at an educational facility has the potential to be financially and reputationally catastrophic.

For example, in 2016 it was reported that the University of Limpopo’s website was taken down, leaking exam papers and the details of over 18 000 students, in addition to perpetrators publicly posting what was believed to be the login details for the University’s intranet.

The sheer number of cyber-attacks on educational institutions suggests that the sector is not as prepared as it should be in its efforts to safeguard networks, according to Curtin.

Aon provides the following tips for the education sector:

Safeguard institution-owned devices

All computers, laptops and smart devices owned by the educational institution should at the very least have a current anti-virus programme installed, in addition to adware and malware protection.

One of the biggest threats to any business is the people operating these devices and their naivety regarding cyber risks, so education is key.

BYOD policy

The practice of students and staff members bringing devices to school or university that interact with the institution’s network is very likely. The first line of defence is keeping guest devices separate from the network, allowing the institution to keep data secure on an administrative network, as well as monitor traffic more closely.

When it comes to sending sensitive information, it is crucial to implement a secure file exchange solution that can protect against cyber threats such as phishing scams.

Multi-factor authentication

While passwords alone do not provide adequate levels of security and hackers are able to circumvent physical biometrics such as fingerprint identification as a single layer of authentication, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is fast becoming the next line of defence.

Social media policy

Not only does the policy need to stipulate what is deemed as acceptable behaviour from employees and students, but it also needs to explain what the benefits are of becoming an ambassador for the brand and the legal ramifications inherent to social media platforms.

By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband

Takealot has confirmed that it will open a new customer centre in Johannesburg.

This follows a report by TechCentral that the online retailer was considering opening a new facility on the N1 highway in Midrand, situated on the New Road bridge.

A distribution centre at this location would cater to customers in both Johannesburg and Pretoria, it stated.

Takealot has an existing customer centre in Cape Town for customer collections, but only a distribution centre in Johannesburg – where customers cannot pick up orders.

Takealot’s plans
Speaking in an interview with MyBroadband, Takealot CEO Kim Reid confirmed they will open a new customer centre in Johannesburg where buyers can pick up purchases.

He said that Takealot will announce more information about the customer centre in 2019.

“We are busy with that, and will be able to provide more details next year,” said Reid.

He added that customers can also expect to benefit from Superbalist’s Click + Collect locations in the near future.

“What people can expect next year, is that we have rolled out 23 Click + Collect points for Superbalist and we will make those live [for Takealot deliveries],” Reid said.

Facebook, Google are election winners

By Todd Shields , Gerry Smith and Sarah Frier for Bloomberg

Even before ballots are counted from Tuesday’s elections, some clear winners have emerged, as Google and Facebook reap windfalls from political advertising after a season of controversy over online political speech.

Political ad spending is on course to set a record, exceeding expenditures in the 2016 presidential election year, with a total of perhaps $9 billion. Political ad buyers weren’t deterred by months of furor over election meddling by Russians using Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet’s Google and YouTube.

“This was a test year for political digital,” says Kip Cassino, who works with research firm Borrell Associates after retiring as its executive vice president. “What they wanted to see was how many ads could they put on digital without people getting really upset.”

Digital ad spending rose more than 25-fold from the last non-presidential national elections in 2014, reaching 20 percent of expected political spending this year at almost $1.8 billion, according to estimates compiled by Borrell. Kantar Media/CMAG, which omits some online activity, estimated 2018 online spending at $900 million, up from $250 million four years ago.

The figures show how digital sites, with their ability to target thin slices of the electorate, have assumed a prime place alongside traditional media such as broadcast TV, which is still prized for reaching large numbers of older voters likely to go the polls and accounts for the largest amount of political ad spending.

Kantar estimated providers such as Tegna Inc. and Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. would see political ad revenue rise to $2.7 billion, up 30 percent compared with 2014. When local races are included, broadcast stations saw a decline in political advertising compared with 2014, to $3.5 billion, but remain the top recipient, according to Borrell’s estimates.

Local cable TV advertising sold by the likes of Comcast Corp. or Charter Communications Inc. was expected to jump 75 percent compared with four years ago, Kantar said.

“Everybody killed it this year,” said Steven Passwaiter, a vice president with Kantar, which monitors political ads.

On Tuesday, Gray Television Inc., which owns more than 100 local broadcast TV stations in smaller markets such as Augusta, Georgia and Omaha, Nebraska, said third-quarter political ad revenue was up 17 percent compared with the same quarter in 2014. That included a windfall four years ago from a hotly-contested senate race in Alaska, executives said.

“Political advertising remains quite alive and exceptionally healthy,” Gray Chief Executive Officer Hilton Howell said on an earnings call. Gray executives said political ad spending exceeded their expectations in states like Tennessee, Kansas and Florida.

A customer service representative responding on the official Telkom Twitter account has accidentally agreed with a negative comment about the company.

The user was complaining about the provider’s service delivery, and the representative replied without having correctly understood the context.

According to MyBroadband, a “professional Fortnite player Dennis ‘Cloak’ Lepore said in a tweet that ‘Spectrum might be the worst internet provider ever’. Spectrum is an ISP which serves users in the US.”

A South African Twitter user named Jonathan Oliver then “responded to Lepore’s tweet, stating ‘Nah @TelkomZA takes the number 1 spot’.”

Although both users were complaining about the service of certain Internet service providers, the Telkom customer representative responded with the following: “Yass and your continuous support keeps us up there! Thank you…”

The reply was widely mocked and shared on social media. It has since been deleted by Telkom.

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