Nedbank service provider’s IT systems have been breached, exposing the personal information of up to 1.7 million clients, said the bank last Thursday.
Computer Facilities, which does direct marketing for Nedbank by sending short messages and email marketing information on behalf of the bank, was breached.
The bank said there was some “potentially compromised data” which included names, identity cards numbers, telephone numbers, physical and/or email addresses.
“We regret the incident … and the matter is receiving our urgent attention. The safety and security of our clients’ information is a top priority,” said Nedbank CEO Mike Brown, adding that the bank systems or client accounts were not impacted.
“We are communicating directly with affected clients. We are also taking the necessary actions in close cooperation with the relevant regulators and authorities,” said Brown.
Nedbank group Chief Information Officer Fred Swanepoel said they have secured and destroyed all their client information held by Computer Facilities.
Last year the City of Johannesburg’s system was hacked and some payment in bitcoins were demanded. In 2017 South Africa’s insurance company Liberty was hacked and demanded ransom.
Vodacom and Rain consumers can RICA their sim-cards online, while MTN promises to improve RICA service in the near future.
- RICA stands for the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act
- All SIM cards in the country must be registered with a user’s personal details such as residential address and ID number
- Online registration allows customers to avoid queues
- Vodacom was the first telecommunications company to make use of online RICA in 2018, but this was only used to verify and update RICA information of existing customers
- Similar to an instore-RICA, consumers are required to have a valid South African identity document and a proof of residence that is no more than 3 months old
- MTN has pledged to partner with the Department of Home Affairs to leverage digital databases and biometric authentication to improve the process
- Cell C and Telkom do not allow for online RICA, with no plans in the near future to release the functionality
A new email-based extortion scheme apparently is making the rounds, targeting Web site owners serving banner ads through Google’s AdSense program. In this scam, the fraudsters demand bitcoin in exchange for a promise not to flood the publisher’s ads with so much bot and junk traffic that Google’s automated anti-fraud systems suspend the user’s AdSense account for suspicious traffic.
Earlier this month, KrebsOnSecurity heard from a reader who maintains several sites that receive a fair amount of traffic. The message this reader shared began by quoting from an automated email Google’s systems might send if they detect your site is seeking to benefit from automated clicks. The message continues:
“Very soon the warning notice from above will appear at the dashboard of your AdSense account undoubtedly! This will happen due to the fact that we’re about to flood your site with huge amount of direct bot generated web traffic with 100% bounce ratio and thousands of IP’s in rotation — a nightmare for every AdSense publisher. More also we’ll adjust our sophisticated bots to open, in endless cycle with different time duration, every AdSense banner which runs on your site.”
The message goes on to warn that while the targeted site’s ad revenue will be briefly increased, “AdSense traffic assessment algorithms will detect very fast such a web traffic pattern as fraudulent.”
“Next an ad serving limit will be placed on your publisher account and all the revenue will be refunded to advertisers. This means that the main source of profit for your site will be temporarily suspended. It will take some time, usually a month, for the AdSense to lift your ad ban, but if this happens we will have all the resources needed to flood your site again with bad quality web traffic which will lead to second AdSense ban that could be permanent!”
The message demands $5,000 worth of bitcoin to forestall the attack. In this scam, the extortionists are likely betting that some publishers may see paying up as a cheaper alternative to having their main source of advertising revenue evaporate.
The reader who shared this email said while he considered the message likely to be a baseless threat, a review of his recent AdSense traffic statistics showed that detections in his “AdSense invalid traffic report” from the past month had increased substantially.
The reader, who asked not to be identified in this story, also pointed to articles about a recent AdSense crackdown in which Google announced it was enhancing its defenses by improving the systems that identify potentially invalid traffic or high risk activities before ads are served.
Google defines invalid traffic as “clicks or impressions generated by publishers clicking their own live ads,” as well as “automated clicking tools or traffic sources.”
“Pretty concerning, thought it seems this group is only saying they’re planning their attack,” the reader wrote.
Google declined to discuss this reader’s account, saying its contracts prevent the company from commenting publicly on a specific partner’s status or enforcement actions. But in a statement shared with KrebsOnSecurity, the company said the message appears to be a classic threat of sabotage, wherein an actor attempts to trigger an enforcement action against a publisher by sending invalid traffic to their inventory.
“We hear a lot about the potential for sabotage, it’s extremely rare in practice, and we have built some safeguards in place to prevent sabotage from succeeding,” the statement explained. “For example, we have detection mechanisms in place to proactively detect potential sabotage and take it into account in our enforcement systems.”
Google said it has extensive tools and processes to protect against invalid traffic across its products, and that most invalid traffic is filtered from its systems before advertisers and publishers are ever impacted.
“We have a help center on our website with tips for AdSense publishers on sabotage,” the statement continues. “There’s also a form we provide for publishers to contact us if they believe they are the victims of sabotage. We encourage publishers to disengage from any communication or further action with parties that signal that they will drive invalid traffic to their web properties. If there are concerns about invalid traffic, they should communicate that to us, and our Ad Traffic Quality team will monitor and evaluate their accounts as needed.”
By Cornelia Le Roux for The South African
The search engine giant’s free WiFi service was launched in 125 locations across Langa, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Delft, Elsies River, and Philippi, in Cape Town in November 2019.
During its Cape Flats launch announcement on 7 November 2019, Google’s Next Billion Users Initiative head of partnerships Adama Diallo said: “Google Station is here to connect the unconnected in SA.”
However, only three months into its WiFi hotspot programme, Google Station, the search engine has changed its tune, saying it will discontinue its service aimed at making the internet more accessible to low-income communities.
Think WiFi to handle SA operations
According to Google Station, it will hand over all South African operations to its partner Think WiFi through 2020.
“We are transferring our Google Station operations in South Africa to Think WiFi who will now carry out the project independently,” a spokesperson told Business Insider SA.
Its foray into providing free internet access to the Cape Flats, formed part of its global initiative to offer fast, free, open access internet to people affected by high unemployment and crime rates in countries, such as Mexico, India and the Philippines.
Google said that it had to re-evaluate its plans due to “complex and varying technical requirements across countries and partners”.
“Since we first started, the ecosystem has evolved and combined with complex and varying technical requirements across countries and partners, we have been re-evaluating our plans and have decided to wind down Station through 2020,” said Google South Africa.
“We’ll work with Think WiFi on a plan to transition the service to them, and continue to support them until the end of 2020. We remain committed to looking for ways to make the internet more accessible to users around the world.”
According to MyBroadband, Think WiFi said the service will continue to operate as users have become accustomed to, while plans are in the pipeline to roll the service out to more areas in the coming months.
“The launch of the free Wi-Fi initiative in the Western Cape has been more successful than anticipated and plans are already underway to roll free WiFi out to the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, and some areas in Mpumalanga,” said Think WiFi CEO Janine Rebelo.
“We endeavour to work with the private and public sector to bring connectivity to the unconnected.”
According to Think WiFi, Google Station has already reached more than a million people in South Africa, and the internet service provider (ISP) sees a gap in the market to become the new preferred service provider for free WiFi.
Vodacom Group Ltd. sees its African financial-services business as a cornerstone of growth as the wireless carrier expands into products such as funeral insurance and loans of as little as $2 (R30).
The unit of the U.K.’s Vodafone Group Plc uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to customize its financial offering depending on the different needs of markets ranging from Democratic Republic of Congo to Mozambique, Vodacom Chief Executive Officer Shameel Joosub said in an interview. “Our expectations are that we can grow this business segment at those levels for the next few years,” he said at the company’s head office north of Johannesburg.
Nano-loans are growing in popularity, the CEO said, with Kenya a particularly big market. Meanwhile funeral cover is popular among South African cultures that traditionally spend relatively large sums on ceremonies, he added.
“With nano lending we give people $2 or $3 loans and they pay us back within a few days,” Joosub said. “They can get food when needed, and water, and electricity.”
Mobile financial services have become a significant source of revenue for Africa’s telecom companies as the continent’s young and growing population take advantage of a growing availability of smartphones to overcome a lack of formal banking infrastructure. An estimated 84% of Africans will have access to a mobile connection within the next five years, according to a report by GSMA.
The increased use of mobile phones could boost the sub-Saharan Africa economy by as much as $150 billion during the same period, according to the report.
Vodacom has a target of 20% annual growth for financial services over the longer term as the business stabilizes from initial greater jumps off a low base. Sales from the division gained by 37% in the six months through September. The service fees for nano-loans are typically between 5% and 20%.
Vodafone is increasingly consolidating African operations under the Vodacom umbrella, and will give management control of its Ghana business to Joosub in April. The Vodacom CEO has also been appointed to the executive committee of the U.K. parent.
DStv has announced pricing increases on some of its packages for 2020, while others will remain at the previous year’s prices.
The updated fees, will take effect from 1 April, are as follows:
- DStv Premium – a R10.00 (1.24%) price increase
- Compact Plus – a R10.00 (1.93%) increase
- There will be no increase for Compact subscribers
Premium subscribers declined to 20% from 22% in the previous financial year, due to tough economic times and stiff competition from international video streaming services.
Meanwhile, a recent poll run by BusinessTech found that around 13% of South Africans were willing to cut access to services like DStv to cut costs each month.
By Khulekani Magubane for Fin24
After President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation Address last week under the shadow of an under-performing economy, Members of Parliament jostled over whether he was confronted by near-impossible odds or complicit in South Africa’s economic quandary.
MPs held the first day of the SONA 2020 debate in the National Assembly on Tuesday afternoon.
Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa failed to capitalise on the optimism at the beginning of his presidency, as economic growth slowed, and direct foreign investment dropped along with tax revenues and employment.
“I am not going to stand here and say that this happened on your watch, Mr President. That would be far too kind. It didn’t just happen on your watch, it happened by your own hand. You, sir, put us in this situation,” claimed Steenhuisen.
Ïn Steenhuisen’s view, most of the positive announcements Ramaphosa made during his SONA were merely DA policies that the president co-opted and appropriated as his own.
“Euthanasia is never easy, but sometimes it’s the most humane option. On Thursday night you should have switched off Eskom’s life support machine, and perhaps supported the DA’s electricity plan, which takes power from the state and gives it to the people,” Steenhuisen said.
Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa’s newly announced sovereign wealth fund was only a great idea for a nation that had a healthy budget, citing Norway and Saudi Arabia as examples.
“But we are running a budget deficit and spiralling deeper and deeper into debt. Where will the money for a sovereign wealth fund come from, Mr President? From your own bank account?” Steenhuisen asked.
Speaking after Steenhuisen, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu sprang to the president’s defence, saying that Steenhuisen could not expect the president to take his policies from the DA’s election manifesto.
Mthembu said Ramaphosa’s SONA speech focused on the energy crisis, youth unemployment, growing the economy and building a capable state.
“We welcome government’s plan to ensure that Eskom works to restore its operational capabilities, while implementing measures that will fundamentally change the trajectory of energy generation in our country such as putting in place measures to enable municipalities in good financial standing to procure their own power from independent power producers,” said Mthembu.
Mthembu added that the government was moving to respond to unemployment, which he said is high because of the “grossly imbalanced structure of the economy”.
This is exacerbated by the skills mismatch that is so prevalent in the country, he added.
On 1 March, South Africa’s minimum wage will see its first increase since being introduced in 2019.
Unions were outraged at a previous recommendation of 5% increases, pointing out that the minimum wages introduced in 2019 were agreed in 2017, and are now much eroded.
- The new national minimum wage will be set at R20.76 per hour
- This is an increase of 3.8% on the previous R20
- Annual consumer inflation was at 4% last month, up from the rate of 3.6% in November
- Unions sought an increase of at least 12.5% in the minimum wage this year
Here are the new minimum wages due to come into effect on 1 March 2020:
- For work not covered by a special determination: R20.76 per hour
- For domestic workers: R15.57 per hour
- For contract cleaning staff: between R20.83 and R22.84 per hour, depending on the geographic area
- For farm workers: R18.68 per hour.
- For workers in government’s expanded public works programme: R11.42 per hour
In an effort to support a healthier and more productive workforce, employers increasing spend on well-intentioned wellness programmes such as onsite gyms and standing desks.
But Linda Trim, director at workplace design specialists Giant Leap, said while employees do like the extra facilities, “they want the basics first” – which is something companies tend to forget.
“Employees want better air quality, access to natural light, and the ability to personalise their workspace more than anything else. It makes sense: these factors are the biggest influencers of employee performance, happiness and wellbeing.
“We are increasingly asked to consult to CEOs of South African businesses on how to improve poor workspaces which prevent people and companies from progressing. For them it’s become a pressing need to have people-first workspaces.”
A high-quality workplace can reduce absenteeism up to four days a year. This can have a major impact on the bottom line. Employees who are satisfied with their work environments are 16% more productive, 18% more likely to stay, and 30% more attracted to their company over competitors.
Here are three steps you can take to improve your work environments and the wellbeing of your employees:
- Stop spending on barely used office perks. “A good rule of thumb is to never assume that you know what your employees want — but instead, find ways to ask them,” Trim advised. They might then put less emphasis on office perks that only a minority of employees will take advantage of (like an onsite gym), and more on changes in the workplace environment that impact all employees like air quality and access to light. Interestingly, we find that many employees want a view of the outdoors.
- Personalise when possible. We’ve all gotten used to personalising our outside-of-work lives. We watch the shows we want to watch and listen to the music we like to hear. “Employees are beginning to expect these same privileges in the workplace,” Trim noted. “Specifically, employees want to personalise workplace temperature, overhead and desk lighting and noise levels.”
Research by global acoustics company St Gobain, which Giant Leap partnered with for a recent installation, showed that good acoustics could mean a 15% reduction in cognitive stress for office workers working in an open plan office. American technology company Cisco manages the acoustic levels in their space by creating a floor plan without assigned seating that includes neighbourhoods of workspaces designed specifically for employees collaborating in person, remotely, or those who choose to work alone.
Others companies like US biotech company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals allow employees to control natural light streaming in through their office windows with a cell phone app. “The same strategy applies to light or temperature. You can position employees who want a higher temperature and more light around the edge of your floor plan, and those who like it quieter and cooler in the core,” Trim said.
- Create a holistic view of workplace wellness. Workplace wellness includes physical wellness, emotional wellness, and environmental wellness.All three need consideration:
- Emotional wellness – give employees access to natural light , and quiet rooms where they can comfortably focus on their work.
- Physical wellness – provide people with healthy food options, and ergonomically designed work stations.
- Environmental wellness – make sure your workspaces have adequate air quality, light, temperature, and proper acoustics.
Mondi has announced that Andrew King, group CFO and a director of Mondi, will be appointed as Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with effect from 1 April 2020. King will succeed Peter Oswald who, as announced on 10 January 2020, will be stepping down as CEO and leaving Mondi on 31 March 2020.
David Williams, chair of Mondi, commented:
“I am delighted that someone of Andrew’s calibre has agreed to succeed Peter as CEO. This appointment follows a formal review process, assessing both internal and external candidates, which convinced the Board that he is the right person to lead the Group. During his time with Mondi, Andrew has consistently demonstrated considered and effective leadership.
King’s 17 years’ experience with Mondi in various strategy, business development and finance leadership roles will benefit the Group enormously. He has been instrumental in defining the Group’s strategic direction since listing and I am confident he will bring significant insight and leadership to the role of CEO.”
Commenting, King said:
“I am excited to accept the role as CEO of Mondi. We have a clear strategic focus, robust business model and many talented and dedicated people. At Mondi’s core is our purpose of contributing to a better world by making innovative, sustainable packaging and paper solutions, with a strategy aimed at creating long-term value for the benefit of all our stakeholders. I look forward to working with the Board and the wider leadership team to continue the successful development of the Group.”
A formal process to recruit Andrew’s successor as CFO will commence immediately and will include external and internal candidates.