Tag: safety

By Sarah Evans for News24 

Uber faces a class action suit by customers who say they suffered emotional trauma and physical injuries while using its service. Eleven people represented by Ulrich Roux Attorneys will approach the High Court in an effort to pursue a damages claim from the transportation service as a class action.

The class action comes on the back of criminal and civil suits involving people who were harmed, allegedly while using Uber.

In a criminal case, four men are currently facing trial on a number of charges including rape, attempted rape, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and attempted murder. They allegedly attacked five Uber users between July and August 2016.

According to the charge sheet, the accused’s modus operandi was for one of them to pose as an Uber taxi driver and pretend to be the driver who received the victim’s Uber request. But he was not the driver linked to the victim’s Uber app.

In most of the cases, the other accused would emerge from the boot of the car, through the back seat, and attack the victims, stabbing and raping them in all cases but one, which was an attempted rape. The victims were also robbed of their belongings and made to tell the accused their bank account details.

In the civil case, Roux said that eight people had come forward wanting to claim damages from Uber for incidents that took place while they were using the service.

Safety ‘a top priority’

Roux said that the team of lawyers was drafting an application to have the case certified as a class action, which must be approved by the High Court before it can proceed. He said the team believed that Uber had “vicarious liability” in these incidents, as it advertised the service as safe and reliable to use.

Uber told News24 on Thursday that it could not comment on a case that has not yet begun, however, its thoughts remain with the riders affected by these incidents, it said.

“Our thoughts continue to be with the riders and their families, these incidents are deeply upsetting.

“As soon as these incidents were reported we reached out to local authorities and whatever information we could provide was handed over to the police and it was this close collaboration that led to the arrest of the suspect. In cases of this nature we work closely with police to support their investigations,” Uber explained in a statement on Thursday.

The taxi service also wished to clarify that since these incidents, it had undertaken to improve its verification process and safety features for riders and drivers.

“Safety is a top priority for Uber, and has been since our launch in South Africa. We’re committed to doing the right thing and take on our part of the responsibility to increase safety.

“We constantly invest and innovate to raise the bar on safety,” Uber said.

Make your router hacker-proof

By Sandeep Nair Narayanan, Anupam Joshi and Sudip Mittal for The Conversation 

In late April, the top federal cybersecurity agency, US-CERT, announced that Russian hackers had attacked internet-connected devices throughout the U.S., including network routers in private homes. Most people set them up – or had their internet service provider set them up – and haven’t thought much about them since. But it’s the gateway to the internet for every device on your home network, including Wi-Fi connected ones. That makes it a potential target for anyone who wants to attack you, or, more likely, use your internet connection to attack someone else.

As graduate students and faculty doing research in cybersecurity, we know that hackers can take control of many routers, because manufacturers haven’t set them up securely. Router administrative passwords often are preset at the factory to default values that are widely known, like “admin” or “password.” By scanning the internet for older routers and guessing their passwords with specialized software, hackers can take control of routers and other devices. Then they can install malicious programs or modify the existing software running the device.

Once an attacker takes control
There’s a wide range of damage that a hacker can do once your router has been hijacked. Even though most people browse the web using securely encrypted communications, the directions themselves that let one computer connect to another are often not secure. When you want to connect to, say, theconversation.com, your computer sends a request to a domain name server – a sort of internet traffic director – for instructions on how to connect to that website. That request goes to the router, which either responds directly or passes it to another domain name server outside your home. That request, and the response, are not usually encrypted.

A hacker could take advantage of that and intercept your computer’s request, to track the sites you visit. An attacker could also attempt to alter the reply, redirecting your computer to a fake website designed to steal your login information or even gain access to your financial data, online photos, videos, chats and browsing history.

In addition, a hacker can use your router and other internet devices in your home to send out large amounts of nuisance internet traffic as part of what are called distributed denial of service attacks, like the October 2016 attack that affected major internet sites like Quora, Twitter, Netflix and Visa.

Has your router been hacked?
An expert with complex technical tools may be able to discover whether your router has been hacked, but it’s not something a regular person is likely to be able to figure out. Fortunately, you don’t need to know that to kick out unauthorized users and make your network safe.

The first step is to try to connect to your home router. If you bought the router, check the manual for the web address to enter into your browser and the default login and password information. If your internet provider supplied the router, contact their support department to find out what to do.

If you’re not able to login, then consider resetting your router – though be sure to check with your internet provider to find out any settings you’ll need to configure to reconnect after you reset it. When your reset router restarts, connect to it and set a strong administrative password. The next step US-CERT suggests is to disable older types of internet communications, protocols like telnet, SNMP, TFTP and SMI that are often unencrypted or have other security flaws. Your router’s manual or online instructions should detail how to do that.

After securing your router, it’s important to keep it protected. Hackers are very persistent and are always looking to find more flaws in routers and other systems. Hardware manufacturers know this and regularly issue updates to plug security holes. So you should check regularly and install any updates that come out. Some manufacturers have smartphone apps that can manage their routers, which can make updating easier, or even automate the process.


Those of us who don’t rent bank safety deposit boxes for our valuables probably imagine the set-up to involve fingerprint-accessed vault-like doors and a cobweb of alarmed beams, as in the movies.

It wasn’t quite like that, said one of the victims of the December 18 First National Bank Randburg branch heist in which 360 boxes were stolen.

“Zai” of Randburg, who did not want to be named, happened to be at the bank yesterday when most of the boxes were returned to the branch by what appeared to be a private security company.

Police found the empty boxes dumped near FNB Stadium in Soweto two days after the heist.

All the valuables, including watches, Krugerrands, and jewellery passed down generations were gone. Only documents such as title deeds were left behind.

Zai’s family had rented the box since about 2004, she said, and at the time of the theft were renting it at R120 a month.

“Ironically, it was quite a big deal for us to access our boxes,” said Zai, who last did so in October.

“You had to make an appointment at least 24 hours in advance.

“Someone would meet you and take you into a room, and lock the door behind you. I’d have to produce my ID, then he’d go into another room, a vault, where the boxes were kept, lock that door behind him and then pass my box to me through a slot in the wall. Liberty Locksmith is knowledgeable, technologically advanced and dedicated to serving.

“I never saw any of the other boxes. I opened my box with two keys, in my possession, and then I’d be left alone to do what I needed to do, and then I’d phone to say that I was finished, so they could take the box back into the vault.

“It seemed very safe and professional,” she said.

In early December Zai’s husband asked her to collect their six expensive watches from the box to have them serviced.

“But I was too busy and now they are all gone,” she said.

FNB’s safety deposit contract states the bank will not be legally responsible “under any circumstances for any loss or damage that may occur to the contents” and officials have said they had no way of knowing what was in the stolen boxes and urged clients to insure the contents of the boxes.

By Wendy Knowler for Timeslive

Emily Pratt wasn’t impressed when she heard about the US Food and Drug Administration probe into the potentially deleterious effects of tattoo ink. She would have shrugged to show how little she cared, but she was a bit sore from the tattoo machine that had just been smacking away at her left forearm.

This was her seventh inking, after all: a wrap-around bouquet of six roses in shades of yellow and red rendered at Embassy Tattoos in Washington. “The fact that I’m here,” the 22-year-old says, recovering in the waiting room near a stuffed mongoose, “says I’m not worried about the side effects.”

But the FDA is, as are some experts in the field. The concern has grown with the explosion in the body art’s popularity and the availability of tools and inks online. The industry is growing about 9 percent a year, a rate research company IBISWorld projects will make it a $1.1 billion business by 2020.

“Even the most reputable places can’t guarantee the safety of ink,” says Arisa Ortis, a dermatologist and assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego, and co-author of a 2011 article that cited reports by researchers in Spain, Germany and the US who discovered substances including mercury and charcoal in tattoo dyes.

Industrial-grade colours

In the US, the inks are regulated as cosmetic products. The FDA can screen them before they hit the market but has rarely done so, according to its website, because of “competing public-health priorities and a previous lack of evidence of safety problems specifically associated with these pigments.”

The agency does investigate when it receives complaints, and these have been on the rise: Hundreds have been filed since 2004 compared with just five between 1988 to 2003, reporting reactions including itching or scarring or inflamed skin even years after tattooing occurred.

One issue could be the proliferation of do-it-yourself equipment and inexpensive dyes, says “Sailor” Bill Johnson, vice president of the National Tattoo Association. “I’ve been using the same product for nearly 40 years and have never had a problem with it.”

Scientists at the FDA’s National Centre for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Arkansas, are exploring several aspects of ink’s impact once it’s been under the skin for a while, including how the chemicals metabolise in the body.


“Many pigments used in tattoo inks are industrial-grade colours suitable for printers’ ink or automobile paint,” the agency says on its website. Chemists have discovered some yellows break down when exposed to sunlight or certain enzymes, though it hasn’t been determined whether this is toxic. The FDA hasn’t said when its ink study will be done.

By some estimates, about 30 percent of the US population and one in four millennials sports at least one tattoo, though, according to the Pew Research Centre, the majority have theirs in places that can be hidden from view.

“Tattooing has become mainstream,” says Diane Pacom, a University of Ottawa sociologist. “The millennials, they’re doing it as a statement of belonging to the system — because everybody has tattoos now.”
Including many filled with regret. Tattoo removal is also a growing business, with IBISWorld predicting it will be an $80-million-a-year industry in 2018, up from $40 million in 2008.

Gen Z

Would negative findings by the FDA greatly dim tattooing’s allure? Lars Krutak, a tattoo-history expert at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, doesn’t believe so. After all, millions still smoke despite the risks. But what the FDA discovers, he says, may lead to “better regulation, quality standards, labelling and even the reclassification of tattooing ink itself.”

The tastes of Generation S may determine whether the US has reached peak tattoo. Coming along behind the millennials, this cohort includes kids born from the mid-90s to the mid-2000s. According to researchers, Gen S is more cautious and more driven to be successful after seeing older siblings struggle to find work and live with their parents in record numbers.

Anna Felicity Friedman, a tattoo historian who estimates 50 percent of her body is covered in ink, says no matter what the FDA concludes, the US “may be at a tipping point in tattoo popularity.” Young people she knows “are consciously deciding to remain untattooed, either to be rebellious, since tattoos are no longer a mark of rebellion, or to avoid being deemed a fashion victim.”

Jason Recker, a 15-year-old from Peoria, Illinois, has already done some research. “You don’t see a lot of tattoos on lawyers and engineers and teachers,” he says, considering future careers. “I don’t think I’ll want to get a tattoo when I’m old enough.”

By Bradley Joseph Saacks for www.bloomberg.com

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