South African WhatsApp scam warning

Source: MyBroadband

The National Stokvel Association of South Africa (Nasasa) is warning South Africans about WhatsApp stokvel scams which are targeting victims through social media.

These WhatsApp stokvels catch unsuspecting victims by promising them a large return on investment in a short period of time.

For a R200 upfront investment the scammers promise that people will be paid R1,200 if their recruit more people into the scheme.

Participants said that as soon as they paid their money to the “WhatsApp stokvel”, the rest of the members disappeared.

Andrew Lukhele, founder and chairperson of Nasasa, warned that these WhatsApp stokvels are pyramid schemes.

As it is a pyramid scheme, only a few people who form part of the stokvel will get paid out. The rest will lose their money.

Lukhele warned that criminals are using the popularity of stokvels to promote their scams.

Police warning
The SA Police Service (SAPS) has also warned South Africans about these scams, saying that members of cash savings clubs (stokvels) must be cautious.

The SAPS said it has received multiple complaints from people who were scammed by criminals through a WhatsApp stokvel.

The police have asked the victims of the scams, or those who have knowledge about them, to contact the SAPS Crime Stop helpline on 0860 010 111.

On 2 October President Ramaphosa signed the Film and Publications Amendment Bill into law.

In the area of printed and audio-visual content, the Films and Publications Amendment Act provides for the establishment, composition and appointment of members of an Enforcement Committee that will, among other tasks, to regulate online distribution of films and games, and to protect children from disturbing and harmful content.

The Bill is also known as the “Internet censorship bill” by its detractors.

This extends – to online distributors – the compliance obligations of the Films and Publications Act and the compliance and monitoring functions of the Film and Publication Board to online distributors.

The Amended Act also revises the functions of compliance officers regarding entering and inspection of premises and facilities in which the business of the sale, hire or exhibition of films or games is being conducted.

The law further regulates the classification of publications, films and games and allows for the accreditation of independent commercial online distributors by the Film and Publication Board.

Through the Board, the law will regulate the creation, possession, production and distribution of films, games and certain publications with a view to protecting children from disturbing and harmful content.

Controversy
Some controversial points around the bill deal with the following:

  • Revenge porn: any person who knowingly distributes private sexual photographs and films without prior consent and with intention to cause the said individual harm shall be guilty of an offence and liable upon conviction. This includes a possible fine not exceeding R150,000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years and/or to both a fine and imprisonment not exceeding two years. Where the individual is identified or identifiable in said photographs and films, this punishment rises to a R300,000 fine and/or imprisonment not exceeding four years;
  • Hate speech: any person who knowingly distributes in any medium, including the Internet and social media, any film, game or publication which amounts to propaganda for war, incites imminent violence, or advocates hate speech, shall be guilty of an offence. This includes a possible fine not exceeding R150,000 and/or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years; and
  • ISP requirements: If an internet access provider has knowledge that its services are being used for the hosting or distribution of child pornography, propaganda for war, incitement of imminent violence or advocating hatred based on an identifiable group characteristic it shall immediately remove this content, or be subject to a fine.

However, detractors say that the Bill is open to abuse, and may be used to curtail freedom of speech and increase censorship.

The City of Cape Town has published its amended traffic by-laws for public comment.

If passed, changes will include:

  • Strict new rules on using smartphones while driving will be applied
  • Mobile phones may be impounded (rather than be destroyed or auctioned off) if a motorist is caught using a handset while driving
  • Confiscated phones may be donated to neighbourhood watches, NGOs, or non-profit organisations
  • Motorists will have a number of opportunities to get their phones back first

By Nomzamo Radebe, CEO of Excellerate JHI

There can be no doubt that digital processes and technology will underpin future retail, but what does this really mean for local brands and companies? Arguably, the first step towards future-proofing retail is to understand what the customer of the future looks like.

Today, with endless information at their fingertips, consumers are well informed, demanding, and in a rush. And while many ‘gurus’ have foretold the death of the brick and mortar store, consumers continue to go to malls for both shopping and entertainment. Essentially, retailers and property development partners have to balance out contradictory messages and trends: are they preparing for a digitally driven environment with e-commerce at the centre? Or must retailers find a way to merge hyper-connected, digital habits with physical shopping experiences?

Seamlessly connected, 24/7

As of 2017, there were 3.4 billion global Internet users, which equates to 46% of the population, according to Euromonitor. By 2022, that figure will reach 58%. Along with more people becoming connected, more ‘things’ will become connected – with devices of all kinds constantly generating and sharing data. Yes, this is the Internet of Things (IoT), which will become fundamental to individual lives and purchasing habits. In homes, connected fridges will automatically send notifications when certain things are running low – and may even send a grocery list directly to the owner’s device.

For retailers, the rise of the Internet of Things and overall hyper connectivity means that consumers will be very specific in what they are looking for – and will demand that the retail experience deliver on their needs both seamlessly and instantaneously. Retailers will have to harness technology, including IoT, to create a ‘friction-free’ environment. For instance, the use of chatbots can make sure that when consumers are online they receive immediate and data-driven feedback or help.

Embracing cash-free living

With the enormous popularity of cash-free or cashless services such as Uber and Lyft, even credit and debit cards are beginning to look obsolete. Already, some analysts are forecasting the shift towards an entirely cashless society – and consumers are increasingly demonstrating their keenness to ditch cash. In South Africa, many are already leaving their wallets at home as smartphones become the new [digital] wallet. According to a study by PayPal, 85% of respondents used their mobile phones to make a purchase in 2017, and 46% said being able to shop on their mobile phones has made them buy more. Tellingly, the majority of South Africans would rather leave home without their wallets than leave home without their beloved device.

Conscious living, conscious shopping

With dramatic climate change now firmly on the global agenda, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their environmental impact – which includes their shopping habits. According to research firm J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, ‘consumers expect brands to be sustainable and are willing to pay more to support those that are.’ In a 2018 study titled New Sustainability, the firm stated that 89% of those surveyed ‘care personally’ about protecting the planet; 92% said they are trying to live more sustainably, while 83% would always pick the brand that has a better record of sustainability.

With digital transformation now becoming a global business imperative, local retailers will have to ensure that their digital strategies closely reflect the evolving needs – and values – of their customers.

Will China Mobile buy a struggling Cell C?

According to a recent report by ITWeb, struggling telco Cell C is in possible buy-out talks with China Mobile.

It is rumoured negotiations are underway, and the company told ITWeb that it “is willing to talk to anyone wanting to stabilise the company”.

China Mobile has been pursuing expansion in Africa for some time. A year ago, the world’s largest carrier opened its South African office in Johannesburg.

However, Cell C CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson reported told ITWeb that Cell C is not considering a merger.

Summary of the situation

  • Last month Cell C reported a loss of R8-billion
  • Top bosses have reiterated that the company is open to any potential buyers
  • Blue Label Telecoms, who owns 45% of the telco, says they do not know whether their shareholding will be maintained or reduced
  • Other Cell C shareholders include 3C Telecommunications with 30%; Net1, which owns 15%; while 10% is held by Cell C management and staff
  • Reasons for Cell C’s debt include freezing jobs, declining revenue, debt management challenges and three downgrades by rating agency Standard & Poor

 

Source: Supermarket & Retailer

South Africans are truly struggling financially and are prioritising their monthly debt repayments as they battle to make ends meet.

This is according to Debt Rescue CEO, Neil Roets, who said that consumers typically prioritise debt repayments for their homes and cars as these are assets that they do not want to lose to repossession.

However, these repayments also usually have the highest instalment amounts, so keeping them up to date just adds to the financial burdens embattled consumers are already facing, he said.

Roets added that consumers are cutting down on a number of purchases to keep up on their expenses.

“We have seen a lot of belt-tightening happening over the past year, so consumers have started cutting down on many expenses,” he said.

“Most luxury expenses have been foregone, and purchases such as dining out and takeouts are no longer part of budgets, to keep up with debt repayments and put food on the table.

Consumers typically prioritise debt repayments for their homes and cars as these are assets that they do not want to lose to repossession.

However, these repayments also usually have the highest instalment amounts, so keeping them up to date just adds to the financial burdens embattled consumers are already facing, he said.

Roets added that consumers are cutting down on a number of purchases to keep up on their expenses.

“We have seen a lot of belt-tightening happening over the past year, so consumers have started cutting down on many expenses,” he said.

“Most luxury expenses have been foregone, and purchases such as dining out and takeouts are no longer part of budgets, to keep up with debt repayments and put food on the table.

“Many consumers are resorting to credit in the form of store cards, credit cards or payday loans to put food on the table.”

Roets said this was of great concern as it shows that South Africans are taking on debt to cover day-to-day expenses.

“Day-to-day expenses that consumers are taking debt for includes food, clothing, electricity and fuel for transport,” he said.

“But there are cases where people are taking up debt to repay other debt, or a new payday loan shortly after the previous one was repaid, placing them in an even larger debt spiral.”

By Lizle Louw and Shane Johnson for  Webber Wentzel

Following the Constitutional Court’s Prince judgment, cannabis use, possession and cultivation in South Africa has been decriminalised with adult persons now permitted to use, possess and cultivate cannabis in a private place for personal consumption.

Given that Prince does not deal with the effects of the decriminalisation of cannabis in the workplace, many unanswered employment related questions emerge which we set out below.

What can be said, at this stage is that Prince does not affect an employer’s obligation to maintain a safe working environment for all of its employees, which includes prohibiting employees who are “intoxicated” from entering the workplace, and policies and testing applicable to alcohol use in the workplace are not likely to be appropriate in dealing with cannabis use.

Cannabis in the workplace
In terms of Prince, the use, possession and/or cultivation of cannabis by adults is permitted “in private”. Although cannabis use, possession and cultivation is not confined to one’s “home” or a “private dwelling”, it is likely to be difficult for an employee to argue that the workplace is a “private” space, especially given that the use of cannabis in public or in the presence of non-consenting adult persons is not permitted.

The more difficult issue is where employees use cannabis in private, outside of the workplace, and thereafter report for duty. Cannabis can affect an employee’s occupational capacity in various ways, including performing tasks more slowly, performing poorly when handling routine, monotonous tasks, difficulty in multi-tasking, difficulty in taking instructions from superiors, difficulty in making crucial decisions (especially in high risk situations), difficulty in operating machinery and/or motor vehicles. It is these consequences that an employer will have to consider when the employee reports for work and test positive for cannabis use.

The above scenario may not seem very different to employees using alcohol in private and then reporting for work. The difference, however, between alcohol and cannabis in relation to workplace policy is that for as long as alcohol is detected in the human body, it results in impairment; Cannabis may be detected in the human body for months after use, which at that time may no longer cause impairment.

Testing of employees for cannabis
Medical testing of employees remains regulated by section 7 of the Employment Equity Act (EEA). Medical testing of employees is permitted if it is justifiable in light of medical facts, employment conditions, social policy, the fair distribution of employee benefits or the inherent requirements of a job. An employer who wishes to test an employee for cannabis may be able to justify such testing relying on the provisions of the EEA. A number of tests (some of which are not available in South Africa at present) are used to test for cannabis: breath, blood, oral fluid (saliva), urine, sweat and hair.

Saliva tests will show cannabis use in the past 24 hours (which could be an indication that the employee is still impaired) but hair testing will show cannabis use for up to months after use (which could mean that the employee is no longer impaired). It will not necessarily be the actual testing that will be problematic, but what one does with the test results.

Workplace policies and procedures
Most employers enforce a zero tolerance approach to the use of any drugs and/or alcohol in the workplace. Prior to Prince it was relatively easy to deal with cannabis at work as cannabis use, possession and cultivation was a criminal offence. Following Prince, and given that traces of cannabis may remain in the body for months after use (which does not automatically result in impairment) employers may need to regulate cannabis as a separate issue and by implication through a separate policy and procedure. Zero tolerance policies may not be justifiable.
Employers and their occupational medical practitioners should consider the safety requirements at the workplace and determine whether a zero tolerance approach is justifiable or whether there is an acceptable limit of cannabis trace after some time of use. This may include conducting a screening test (such as a saliva test) that will show immediate past use and then conducting further tests to establish the level of impairment.

From those who choose to co-work when running a remote team, to growing startups and large corporations offering flexibility and autonomy, the spectacular growth of the co-working market seems to know no bounds.

Linda Trim, director at FutureSpace, says that according to a Global Coworking Unconfrence (the largest co-working series in the world) forecast, by 2022 there will be 30 432 spaces and 5.1 million paid co-working members worldwide.

Says Trim: “The market shows an average annual growth rate of 24.2 percent since 2007, and is less a way of working now than a way of life.”

So, what’s behind the explosion, and what does it mean for South Africa?

“The are so many benefits to coworking,” notes Trim. As demands on workplace flexibility increase, corporations are turning to coworking to solve the problem of rising commercial space costs while staying agile.”

She added shared workspaces are an energising, open and supportive environment for those who are not ready for their own office or enjoy the flux and energy of shared space. “It is precisely this flexibility that is so attractive for small businesses and entrepreneurs as they build. For startups, the coworking solution ticks all the boxes of flexible, affordable space, and a creative hub to foster new ideas and new business.”

The self-employed knowledge worker sector is growing too, bringing with it the need for hubs to provide social interaction, alternative locations than the cramped office desk or coffee shop, and clusters of interaction for connectivity.

So, if this market continues to grow and thrive as all the signs indicate, what is the impact on innovation?

For innovation to be successful, the ability to bounce ideas and to foster a culture of creativity is only part of the picture.

“Collaboration is also crucial to innovation, and it’s precisely this element that coworking provides,” says Trim. “The need to build links has always been a key part of business, but open innovation speeds up development. This means networking with people both inside and outside of your organisation, making coworking a powerful catalyst.”

Creating an incubator culture through coworking also has an impact on the speed of growth and success rate of startups. Coworking members grow through collaboration with the space operator where opportunities allow. This gives startups the chance to showcase their businesses to a wider audience that they may not otherwise have had access to.

“Startups fail slowly when they’re alone and can’t get impartial feedback. They fail fast when they have access to objective, well-intentioned feedback from fellow coworkers,” Trim adds.

“A high quality shared office provider will recognise your business model and growth ambitions and offer a rich and compelling program of networking events.”

By creating introductions and helping to build networks, entrepreneurs have more time to focus on innovation which is often the motivation to run their own businesses in the first place.

“As the coworking model continues to grow and diversify in South Africa, we can expect to see more opportunities and models for startup open culture innovation around the country,” Trim concludes.

By Mohit Kumar for The Hacker News

The infamous eGobbler hacking group that surfaced online earlier this year with massive malvertising campaigns has now been caught running a new campaign exploiting two browser vulnerabilities to show intrusive pop-up ads and forcefully redirect users to malicious websites.

To be noted, hackers haven’t found any way to run ads for free; instead, the modus operandi of eGobbler attackers involves high budgets to display billions of ad impressions on high profile websites through legit ad networks.

But rather than relying on visitors’ willful interaction with advertisements online, eGobbler uses browser (Chrome and Safari) exploits to achieve maximum click rate and successfully hijack as many users’ sessions as possible.

In its previous malvertising campaign, eGobbler group was exploiting a then-zero-day vulnerability (CVE-2019-5840) in Chrome for iOS back in April, which allowed them to successfully bypass browser’s built-in pop-up blocker on iOS devices and hijack 500 million mobile user sessions in just a week to show pop-up ads.
apple malware advertisement

Though Google already patched the vulnerability with the release of Chrome 75 in June, eGobbler is still using the flaw to target those who haven’t yet updated their Chrome browser.

However, according to the latest report published by security firm Confiant, the eGobbler threat actors recently discovered and started exploiting a new vulnerability in WebKit, the browser engine used by Apple Safari browser for both iOS and macOS, Chrome for iOS and also by earlier versions of Chrome for desktop.

The new WebKit exploit is more interesting because it doesn’t require users to click anywhere on legit news, blog or informative websites they visit, neither it spawns any pop-up ad.

Instead, the display ads sponsored by eGobbler leverage the WebKit exploit to forcefully redirect visitors to websites hosting fraudulent schemes or malware as soon as they press the “key down” or “page down” button on their keyboards while reading the content on the website.

This is because the Webkit vulnerability actually resides in a JavaScript function, called the onkeydown event that occurs each time a user presses a key on the keyboard, that allows ads displayed within iframes to break out of security sandbox protections.

“This time around, however, the iOS Chrome pop-up was not spawning as before, but we were, in fact, experiencing redirections on WebKit browsers upon the ‘onkeydown’ event,” the researchers said in their latest report.
“The nature of the bug is that a cross-origin nested iframe is able to ‘autofocus’ which bypasses the ‘allow-top-navigation-by-user-activation’ sandbox directive on the parent frame.”

“With the inner frame automatically focused, the keydown event becomes a user-activated navigation event, which renders the ad sandboxing entirely useless as a measure for forced redirect mitigation.”

Though Apple’s app store guidelines restrict all iOS apps with web browsing ability to use its WebKit framework, including for Google Chrome for iOS, mobile users are still less likely to be impacted by the redirection flaw as the ‘onkeydown’ event doesn’t work on the mobile OS.

However, the eGobbler payload, often delivered through popular CDN services, also includes code to trigger redirections when visitors of a targeted web application try to input something in a text area or search forms, likely “to maximize the chances of hijacking these keypresses.”

As researchers believe, “this exploit was key in magnifying the impact of this attack.”

Between August 1 and September 23, the threat actors have been seen serving their malicious code to a staggering volume of ads, which the researchers estimate to be up to 1.16 billion impressions.
While the previous eGobbler malvertising campaign primarily targeted iOS users in the United States, the latest attack targeted users in Europe countries, with a majority being from Italy.

Confiant privately reported the WebKit vulnerability to both the Google and Apple security teams. Apple fixed the flaw in WebKit with the release of iOS 13 on September 19 and in Safari browser 13.0.1 on September 24, while Google has yet to address it in Chrome.

Mustek Limited, one of the country’s largest assemblers and distributors of personal computers and complementary tier 1 ICT products, has officially put to an end to its 17-year long distribution agreement with NEC Visual Display Products in South Africa. This includes the large format display panel products and the projector range.

Speaking about the termination, Mustek brand executive Trevor van Zyl says: “The decision to terminate the agreement is merely a result of Musteks continued effort to maximise its profitability to stakeholders and rationalise its product offering to resellers and the channel with its existing range of visual display products including tier 1 brands, Epson, Philips, Samsung, Acer and Mecer.”

Van Zyl also clearly stated that this termination does not affect the NEC Server business at all.

According to Van Zyl, all the current NEC stock in channel will still be fully supported and all service and warranty commitments will remain in place.

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