Author: My Office News

By Tehillah Niselow for Fin24 

Liberty Holdings customers received SMSs on Saturday alerting them that personal information related to their insurance policies could have been stolen by an external party.

The Information Regulator, which has asked for information about the Liberty breach, is clearly concerned about the increasing number of cyber attacks affecting personal data in South Africa.

“Without a fully functional Information Regulator, these breaches will continue to occur without sanctions provided for in the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA),” said chairperson Advocate Pansy Tlakula.

Tlakula urged “the powers that be to assist it in fast tracking its operationalisation”.

According to corporate law firm Michalsons, certain limited sections of POPIA have already been implemented. However, the bulk of the legislation will only commence at a later date, to be proclaimed by the president. As there is a one-year grace period, the POPIA deadline might only be set for the end of 2019 or in 2020.

In the meantime, South Africans are coming under heightened attack from cyber criminals and hackers.

Andrew Chester, MD of Ukuvuma Security, told Fin24 that affected clients or users should immediately alert their banks and cellphone provider. They should also undertake a credit check as well as a Google search to determine whether their personal information is in the public domain.

Liberty email hack

In SMSs to clients on Saturday, financial services company Liberty informed them that its email repository had been breached by a third party trying to demand a “ransom” in exchange for the data.

Liberty has not revealed much about the breach, citing a police investigation. CEO David Munro confirmed that Liberty’s insurance clients were the only ones affected, and that none of its other business had been compromised.

The company said none of its clients have been impacted financially, and that individuals will be personally advised if their information has been affected.

ViewFines licence details

In May the Hawks, the State Security Agency and the Information Regulator said they would probe the breach of personal records of 943 000 South African drivers, allegedly from online traffic fine website ViewFines.

The information reportedly contained the names, identity numbers and email addresses of South African drivers stored on the ViewFines website in plaintext.

The ViewFines website is owned by Aggregated Payment Systems. News24 reported that its operations manager confirmed the company was “implementing security measures immediately” to improve the website after being informed of the breach.

The source of the data was located by Troy Hunt, an Australian security researcher and creator of the free service Have I Been Pwned, which checks whether an individual’s information has been compromised.

Facebook scandal

While Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg had to face angry lawmakers in the US and European Union, it was reported that the data breach involving the UK political consultancy affected almost 60 000 South African users.

In May, the Information Commissioner’s Office of the United Kingdom (which regulates Facebook outside the US and Canada) advised the Information Regulator of South Africa that over 87 million people had been affected worldwide.

However, no evidence could be found of South Africans having been targeted, as the majority of users involved were in the US.

Master Deed’s data breach “biggest” digital security threat in SA

Hunt was once again instrumental in revealing what was known as the “biggest” data breach in South African history, together with iAfrikan CEO Tefo Mohapi in October 2017.

Over 60 million South Africans’ personal data, from ID numbers to company directorships, was believed to have been affected.

The information was traced to Jigsaw Holdings, a holding company for several real estate firms including Realty1, ERA and Aida. The information reportedly came from credit bureau agencies, and was used to vet potential clients.

The information trove was found not to have been hacked, as it was stored in an easily accessible manner on an open web server.

Ster-Kinekor’s database compromised

Movie theatre chain Ster-Kinekor was responsible for up to 7 million South Africans falling victim to a data leak in March 2017.

Fin24 reported that Durban developer Matt Cavanagh announced he had discovered a flaw in Ster-Kinekor’s booking website, and that he had reported it to the company.

There were between 6 and 7 million users in the database. Of those, 1.6 million people had email addresses linked to them on the movie theatre chain’s database.

By Aaron Brown for MailOnline

WhatsApp will drop support for millions of older smartphones, leaving users unable to send or receive texts via the hugely popular messaging app.

The Facebook-owned chat app will drop support for iOS 7 from 1 February 2020.

As a result, WhatsApp users with an iPhone 4 or older will be forced to either upgrade to a new phone, or find an alternative to the world’s most popular chat app.

WhatsApp has set the same deadline for Android smartphone owners running version 2.3.7 and older, known as ‘Gingerbread’.

From today, WhatsApp has stopped new users setting up account with the messaging service on either iOS 7 or Android Gingerbread.

Existing accounts can send and receive messages until the end of support date.

However, WhatsApp has warned that some features could stop working at any time between now and the final deadline in early 2020.

WhatsApp confirmed plans to drop support for Android Gingerbread and iOS 7 with a quiet update to an existing blog post about previous end of support deadlines.

In the post, the company also confirmed that it has stopped actively developing for iOS 7 and Android Gingerbread and that as a result, ‘some features might stop functioning at any time’ between now and February 2020.

Since iPhone 4 handsets and older are unable to upgrade to iOS 8, the successor to iOS 7, these Apple smartphone owners will no longer be able to continue to use WhatsApp without plumping for a new phone.

The same is true for some Android devices, like Google’s Nexus One, which cannot be upgraded past Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread, and the HTC Desire HD, which is stuck on version 2.3.5.

WhatsApp has confirmed plans to drop support for Nokia S40 in December 2018, and iOS 7 and Android Gingerbread in February 2020.

After this deadline, WhatsApp users will no longer be able to send or receive text messages, voice or video calls within the popular chat app.

Following the announcement of the end of support, WhatsApp stopped new users setting up an account with the messaging service on either iOS 7 or Android Gingerbread handsets.

Existing accounts can send and receive messages until the end of support date.

However, WhatsApp has warned that some features could stop working at any time between now and the final deadline in early 2020.

Handsets that will no longer support WhatsApp after February 2020:iPhone

  • iPhone 3G
  • iPhone 3GS
  • iPhone 4
  • Google Nexus One
  • Samsung Galaxy S
  • HTC Desire HD
  • HTC Wildfire
  • HTC Wildfire S
  • Sony Xperia X10
  • Sony Xperia Arc

This list is not exhaustive. Any Android-powered smartphones running version 2.3.7 and older will stop working on 1 February 2020.

WhatsApp periodically drops support for older operating systems so that it can guarantee its entire user base enjoys the same experience and features.

As the messaging service adds new functionality to its app, it is sometimes unable to replicate these features on smartphone running outdated operating systems.

On January 1 2018, WhatsApp removed support for phones running BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone 8.0, leaving these users unable to download the app, send or receive texts.

The Menlo Park-based developer has previously dropped support for:

  • Android versions older than 2.3.3
  • Windows Phone 8.0 and older
  • iPhone 3GS/iOS 6
  • Nokia Symbian S60

According to the latest figures from Google, 0.3 per cent of all Android devices still run Gingerbread.

That amounts of around 6-million active smartphones and tablets powered by the 10-year-old operating system.

While that may be a drop in the ocean compared to the 2 billion total active monthly devices running Android, it is sure to leave plenty of WhatsApp users unhappy about the latest announcement.

Apple does not reveal the exact breakdown of each iOS operating system, however, the iPhone maker has confirmed that five per cent of all iOS devices sold are now running iOS 9 and older.

However, it’s unclear what percentage of that 75 million total are running iOS 7.

WhatsApp periodically drops support for older operating systems so that it can guarantee its entire user base enjoys the same experience and features.

As the messaging service adds new functionality to its app, it is sometimes unable to replicate these features on smartphone running outdated operating systems.

On January 1 2018, WhatsApp removed support for phones running BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone 8.0, leaving these users unable to download the app, send or receive texts.

The Menlo Park-based developer has previously dropped support for:

  • Android versions older than 2.3.3
  • Windows Phone 8.0 and older
  • iPhone 3GS/iOS 6
  • Nokia Symbian S60

In a statement issued during the last round of end of support announcements, WhatsApp said it wanted to focus its efforts on the operating systems used by the majority of its chat app users – instead of trying to support a smaller percentage running older software.

The company said: ‘As we look ahead to our next seven years, we want to focus our efforts on the mobile platforms the vast majority of people use.’

Online shopping grows in SA

By Joseph Booysen for Business Report

Although traditional retail stores dominate the South African market, consumers are choosing the online option for cheaper technical goods purchases.

According to the latest research report by GfK (Growth from Knowledge), South Africa, E-commerce 360:Navigating the Technical Goods E-Commerce Market in South Africa, e-commerce retailers grew their share of the South African technical consumer goods market by 52 percent last year, accounting for 6.9 percent of total consumer spending by rand value for the year.

This meant they had nearly doubled their share of the market since since 2015.

Cherelle Laubscher, a senior retail manager at GfK South Africa said e-commerce in South Africa was still in its infancy compared to European markets, where a quarter of technical goods spending goes through digital channels.

“However, growth in South Africa is strong and shows no signs of declining as bargain-seeker flock online to buy technical consumer goods like smartphones, IT, consumer electronics, and major home appliances,” said Laubscher.

She said although traditional stores dominated the market, they were not growing the value of the sales they generated in technical goods as quickly as the digital players and e-commerce retailers were seeing strong growth in smartphones, panel televisions, small domestic appliances, gaming consoles and laptops.

According to the report, survey respondents cited better prices, attractive promotions and wide product selections as major reasons for shopping online rather than at at a traditional store, while by contrast, experiential factors such as getting to see and feel goods motivated shoppers to go to physical stores.

GfK South Africa’s point of sale data showed that the consumer perception that e-commerce prices were lower than in-store prices was accurate. More than two-thirds of the top 100 sellers among technical goods products in South Africa were cheaper through digital stores that at physical retailers.

Across the top 100 products, online prices were an average of 4.7 percent cheaper.

Odette Jardim, a client solutions manager at GfK South Africa, said 45 percent of connected consumers in the survey claimed to increasingly use the internet to buy products online compared to the previous year (2016).

“However, a consumer journey often straddles both physical and digital channels, meaning that the most successful retailers should have an omnichannel strategy,” said Jardim.
Meanwhile, Kevin Tucker, PriceCheck chief executive, said although South African consumers might be lagging in the amount of online shopping they did compared to the US, for instance, with increased innovation and tech security, South Africa would continue to see growth.

“South Africa has seen a boom in cutting-edge e-commerce innovation, and this needs to be celebrated,” he said.

Tucker said although the e-commerce industry had grown by 25 percent in South Africa, only 1.5 percent of online consumers ended up making a purchase.

“Online spending in South Africa is expected to reach R53 billion by the end of 2018, up from R37.1bn in 2017, according to research conducted by PayPal. There is clearly huge untapped potential in this industry,” said Tucker.

Tech-friendly letter writing

By Akanksha Singh for Grok Nation

Imagine sending out an email to a friend, only to receive a digital handwritten note back. Handwriting correspondence, snapping a photo and sending it digitally is what I call “tech-friendly letter writing.”

Once upon a time, people sat at desks with inked fingertips and wrote letters with quills. Messengers delivered them on horseback. Such correspondence was so culturally essential that collections of letters from famous authors became a means of insight into their lives. Then came stamps. Then email. Tech-friendly letter writing combines the best of handwritten notes with the convenience of technology.

Plus you skip on stamps by taking a photo and sending it via email, text–faster and there’s some guarantee of receipt. But, that’s not to say I’m against “snail mail.” I’ve been writing letters since college. When I moved from Dubai to Montreal for university, I was lonely and homesick. I remember feeling elated when I sorted through my usual spam (pizza fliers, bills), and finding a letter in the mix. My roommate’s mother had sent it, along with an exam-season care package. It meant the world to me.

So, whenever I write someone a letter, I think of them looking through bills and fliers, and finding something that was actually intended for them, created with love and thought.

Before you knock the idea for being a waste of time, let me give you some background: I attempted tech-friendly letter writing after I read this article about a Jordanian bookshop owner who replies to text messages and Facebook posts with a picture of his handwritten response. Around the same time, I decided I wasn’t immune to the technology-induced dopamine reward loops just because I was aware of them, and that I was sick of being glued to my phone all day, being plugged into everything from my Apple Watch (FYI: we broke up) to my Messenger app.

We’re all aware that our connectedness has made us bad communicators, and that we’re too busy nowadays; tech-friendly letter writing is a good way to disconnect without losing connection.

Often, when I’m typing, I’ve noticed that I type as fast as –if not faster than– I think. Word vomit all the time. Handwriting, I’ve found, has been a great way to slow down, reflect on my day and just breathe. And not surprisingly, handwriting has several benefits for the brain, like increasing neural activity, helping us learn, and more. In addition, letter writing increases those benefits!

How to go about implementing it

  1. Pretty stationery + camera phone
    I’m one of those people who indulges in stationery shopping at Kikki K whenever life gets too real. Pretty stationery does make the whole experience more enjoyable for you and the person receiving an emailed letter. Beautiful stationery options we love here, here, and here.
  2. Get over handwriting perfectionism
    Since I was a child, I’ve always prided myself on having nice handwriting; the sort that people looked at and commented on for its prettiness, which I’d counter with, “Oh, that chicken scratch?” Truthfully, I’d learned calligraphy in school (the real sort, not the messy sort that’s trendy nowadays), and picked it back up when I learned Meghan Markle was a calligrapher (shameless girl crush; judge away). So when I started writing several letters a week and experiencing hand cramps, and produced genuinely messy handwriting, I did what most perfectionists do: I’d rewrite letters that were almost ready to go, minding my cursive and avoiding spelling mistakes best I could.
    It. Was. Exhausting.
    Eventually, the reality of it (time wasting, neuroticism) dawned on me, and I let myself have messy days. The whole point of this exercise was to be real, after all.
  3. Take the pressure off
    When I initially committed to this, I overwhelmed myself with the need to do it all the time.. I eventually realized that I was taking the fun out of what was supposed to be a relaxing exercise, and I was stressing myself out. Which brings me to my next point…
  4. Accept that not everyone or every situation is deserving of a handwritten note
    Set aside a time for correspondence, like the “old days.” I know there are certain people who are worth my time and the paper and ink it takes me to write a thoughtful note. I want to be thoughtful for said people.
  5. Commit for a significant period to see if it works for you
    Like all habits, this will take some time to cultivate. In fact, it’ll likely take longer–texting is just so damned easy. Schedule an hour, half an hour, or even ten minutes per week and stick with it. When I started, I did it for a month, then it became three months, and now we’re going on four. (This is coming from someone who has issues committing to a favorite color, much less a favorite band or tv show, can I add?)

If the letters are long and personal —and sent to someone I really care about— I’ll spend money on postage and mail them off. If not, I’d have typically written the letter or note in my diary, so it will stay there. So, I definitely hang on to everything, sentimentalist that I am!

Friends writing back made this wholly worthwhile: I even reached out to a friend I’d lost touch with (life happens!), with a handwritten apology, and she called and we talked like no time had passed. The biggest benefit for me, personally, has been slowing down to reflect on my thoughts as I’m writing them. So, yeah–it takes longer than clacking out an email or a long text message. But that’s the point.

Liberty Life hacked, user data exposed

Financial services group Liberty Life sent out an SMS to their clients on Saturday evening informing them of a major security breach.

Liberty launched an investigation after its systems were hacked, and said the hackers alerted the company to potential vulnerabilities in its systems and were now demanding compensation.

The Sunday Times reported that the hackers obtained sensitive information about some top clients and have demanded payment of millions of rand not to release the data.

Liberty has communicated with its customers regularly, advising them to change passwords as applicable.

Liberty Life hack could be ‘an inside job’: expert

A security expert has questioned how hackers gained access to Liberty Life clients’ information, suggesting it could have been an inside job.

The financial services provided confirmed on Saturday that its information technology system was hacked last week, by people who demanded payment. It has since regained control of the system.

“It most likely happened in one of two ways: it was either an inside job or someone with the correct privileges was hacked, which means that they could have used that person’s permissions to get into the system,” said managing director of Ukuvuma Cyber Security, Andrew Chester.

He said the hack could have been avoided by applying general data security practices such as encrypting sensitive data, segregating it from vulnerable systems, and building in rigorous access control and monitoring systems.

“Why did Liberty have unstructured email data and attachments that were left unmonitored and more importantly, why was this sensitive data not encrypted? When doing threat-hunting or a security analysis for any company, the first thing one looks for is how easy it is to extract data without being detected.

“Additionally, how did the hackers know where to find the data? If it was an inside job they might have been tipped off, but if it wasn’t, it means that they spent enough time on the infrastructure to know where to look, which is very alarming,” he said.

Chester said it was also concerning that no-one detected the breach until the hackers themselves informed the company.

“There’s a common saying that you sometimes don’t know you’ve been hacked until law enforcement comes knocking at your door, but in this case, Liberty only found out once the criminals had contacted them,” he said.

The company said its investigation into the breach was at an “advanced stage”.

Source: eNCA 

Plan for further load shedding, warns Eskom

Source: News24

While consumers were spared load shedding on Monday, the power utility has cautioned South Africans to remain on the alert for further power cuts.

In a statement on Monday evening, Eskom warned that the power system continues to be constrained.

“Customers are advised to keep checking their load shedding schedules on the Eskom and their municipal websites, and plan on the assumption that load shedding will take place,” it said.

“We thank all customers for using electricity sparingly during this period, assisting us to pull through the evening peak.”

The country has since last Thursday experienced routine blackouts, as Eskom battles to restore supply challenges created by workers’ demonstrations at power plants.

The power utility has reported a significant increase in plant outages and bottlenecks in routine maintenance, because of a lack of resources to operate plants optimally.

Eskom said that blackouts can be expected for the next 10 days.

Workers had left their work posts because of intimidation and violence by fellow employees, who are demanding salary increases.

Load shedding schedules are available on the Eskom website loadshedding.eskom.co.za. Customers can also contact the customer contact centre at 0860 037 566.

Meanwhile, Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe in a tweet reminded Johannesburg City Power consumers that planned maintenance will take place in certain areas “after the Tunisia vs England match”.

By Lameez Omarjee for Fin24 

The rand came under “massive pressure” on Tuesday morning, having weakened from R13.63 to R13.90, following news that US President Donald Trump is threatening new tariffs on Chinese imports.

TreasuryONE’s lead dealer Wichard Cilliers said in a snap note that all eyes would now be on the trade spat.

By 09:14 the local currency was trading 1.92% weaker at R13.90 against the US dollar after breaching this level for the first time since November 27 last year when the rand traded at R14.00/$.

“The trade wars are heating up with US president Trump to identify $200bn in Chinese imports for additional tariffs of 10% and on another $200bn after that if Beijing retaliates,” said Cilliers.

Trump reportedly said that the United States will no longer be taken advantage of on trade by China and other countries in the world. “We will continue using all available tools to create a better and fairer trading system for all Americans,” Trump said.

The IMF noted that this could place global growth at risk.

Bloomberg reports the tariffs could be the latest round of punitive measures in an escalating dispute over the large trade imbalance between the two countries. Trump recently ordered tariffs on $50bn (R692.77bn) in Chinese goods in retaliation for intellectual properly theft. The tariffs were quickly matched by China on US exports.

Apart from the trade wars, locally load shedding is also adding to currency weakness, commented NKC Africa Economics.

NKC expects the rand to trade within a range of R13.65/$ to R13.95/$.

RMB economist Mpho Tsebe noted that the rand was among Monday’s worst-performing emerging market currencies, along with the Colombian peso and the Thai baht.

“Given the fragile growth outlook and inflation contained within the 3%-6% target band, the SARB (South African Reserve Bank) is unlikely to increase interest rates to support the currency,” she said.

Peregrine Treasury Solutions’ Bianca Botes said investors are dumping emerging markets for safe haven assets, including US treasury bonds. “South Africa, due to the liquidity that our local market offers, often leads the losing streak, she said.

“Should these tensions elevate and strong data from the US keeps making its way to market, emerging market currencies will remain under pressure and one could very well see the rand target R14/$,” Botes warned.

However, Andre Botha, senior currency dealer at TreasuryONE was optimistic that the rand could recover.

“We still believe that the rand is overdone at these levels and should the tide turn and risk-taking behaviour start taking precedent again the rand could stage a comeback.” He echoed views that the rand’s performance largely depends on global events rather than local factors.

The nitty-gritty of hobby insurance

Source: SA Good News 

If you have, or are considering engaging in an expensive hobby such as Mountain Biking, flying model aeroplanes, collecting coins or artwork, being aware of the risks you carry and having adequate cover in place is essential to avoid financial loss.

Elizabeth Mountjoy, Private Wealth Manager at FNB Insurance Brokers says the first thing you need to understand is the niche types of cover required for your specific hobby and identifying an underwriter who specialises in covering such risks.

This is to ascertain that the insured asset can be covered for its full replacement value, as soon as it is taken out of your home.

Mountjoy says correctly insuring expensive hobbies can prove to be quite complex, leaving room for error if you try and manage it yourself. Therefore, it is essential to consult an experienced broker who can help ensure that you have covered all possible risks.

For example, there is a lot that you can overlook when trying to insure an expensive MTB bicycle valued at R250 000.

She says for expensive assets of this nature, there are a number of considerations that should be taken into account, such as travel insurance as well as tools or replacement parts to restore and rebuild the bicycle should it be partially damaged.

“As a result, a broker can assist you in correctly valuing the asset to ensure that you are fully covered in the event of a peril,” says Mountjoy.

“Although art purchases, for instance, would have an invoice to indicate the value, it can be difficult for an individual to determine a replacement value for an item they have painstakingly built up for months,” she adds.

A further consideration which can easily be overlooked when insuring a hobby is to get liability cover. The easiest way of doing this is by joining an association or club which could potentially offer this cover at discounted premiums.

For instance, when flying model aeroplanes you need to have personal liability cover to protect yourself in the event that damage or injury is caused to a third party property or individual.

“Lastly, if you have a hobby that requires you to provide advice or you are trading or swapping in items of a particular hobby; it is wise to contact your broker and find out what liability cover they can provide you,” concludes Mountjoy.

R552bn wiped off cryptocurrencies after hack

By Eric Lam, Jiyeun Lee and Jordan Robertson for Bloomberg / Fin24 

The 2018 selloff in cryptocurrencies deepened, wiping out about $42bn (about R552bn) of market value over the weekend and extending this year’s slump in Bitcoin to more than 50%.

Some observers pinned the latest retreat on an exchange hack in South Korea, while others pointed to lingering concern over a clampdown on trading platforms in China. Cryptocurrency venues have come under growing scrutiny around the world in recent months amid a range of issues including thefts, market manipulation and money laundering.

Bitcoin has dropped about 12% since 5 pm New York time on Friday and was trading at $6v756, bringing its decline this year to 53%.

Most other major virtual currencies also retreated, sending the market value of digital assets tracked by Coinmarketcap.com to a nearly two-month low of $298bn. At the height of the global crypto-mania in early January, they were worth about $830 billion.

Enthusiasm for virtual currencies has waned partly due to a string of cyber heists, including the nearly $500m theft from Japanese exchange Coincheck Inc. in late January. While the latest hacking target – a South Korean venue called Coinrail – is much smaller, the news triggered knee-jerk selling, according to Stephen Innes, head of Asia Pacific trading at Oanda in Singapore.

“This is ‘If it can happen to A, it can happen to B and it can happen to C,’ then people panic because someone is selling,” Innes said.

A cryptocurrency slump

The slump may have been exacerbated by low market liquidity during the weekend, Innes added.

“The markets are so thinly traded, primarily by retail accounts, that these guys can get really scared out of positions,” he said. “It actually doesn’t take a lot of money to move the market significantly.”

Coinrail said in a statement on its website that some of the exchange’s digital currency appears to have been stolen by hackers, but it didn’t disclose how much. The venue added that 70% of the cryptocurrencies it holds are being kept safely in a cold wallet, which isn’t connected to the Internet and is less vulnerable to theft. Two-thirds of the stolen assets – which the exchange identified as NPXS, NPER and ATX coins – have been frozen or collected, while the remaining one third is being examined by investigators, other exchanges and cryptocurrency development companies, it said.

Coinrail trades more than 50 cryptocurrencies and was among the world’s Top 100 most active venues, with a 24-hour volume of about $2.65 million, according to data compiled by Coinmarketcap.com before news of the hack.

The Korean National Police Agency is investigating the case, an official said by phone.

In China, the Communist Party-run People’s Daily reported on Friday that the country will continue to crack down on illegal fundraising and risks linked to Internet finance, quoting central bank officials. The nation’s cleanup of initial coin offerings and Bitcoin exchanges has almost been completed, the newspaper said, citing Sun Hui, an official at the Shanghai branch of the central bank.

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