Facebook looks to change its name

By Alex Heath for The Verge

Facebook is planning to change its company name next week to reflect its focus on building the metaverse, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

The coming name change, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to talk about at the company’s annual Connect conference on October 28th, but could unveil sooner, is meant to signal the tech giant’s ambition to be known for more than social media and all the ills that entail. The rebrand would likely position the blue Facebook app as one of many products under a parent company overseeing groups like Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, and more. A spokesperson for Facebook declined to comment for this story.

Facebook already has more than 10,000 employees building consumer hardware like AR glasses that Zuckerberg believes will eventually be as ubiquitous as smartphones. In July, he told The Verge that, over the next several years, “we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company.”

A rebrand could also serve to further separate the futuristic work Zuckerberg is focused on from the intense scrutiny Facebook is currently under for the way its social platform operates today. A former employee turned whistleblower, Frances Haugen, recently leaked a trove of damning internal documents to The Wall Street Journal and testified about them before Congress. Antitrust regulators in the US and elsewhere are trying to break the company up, and public trust in how Facebook does business is falling.

Facebook isn’t the first well-known tech company to change its company name as its ambitions expand. In 2015, Google reorganised entirely under a holding company called Alphabet, partly to signal that it was no longer just a search engine, but a sprawling conglomerate with companies making driverless cars and health tech. And Snapchat rebranded to Snap Inc. in 2016, the same year it started calling itself a “camera company” and debuted its first pair of Spectacles camera glasses.

I’m told that the new Facebook company name is a closely-guarded secret within its walls and not known widely, even among its full senior leadership. A possible name could have something to do with Horizon, the name of the still-unreleased VR version of Facebook-meets-Roblox that the company has been developing for the past few years. The name of that app was recently tweaked to Horizon Worlds shortly after Facebook demoed a version for workplace collaboration called Horizon Workrooms.

Rebranding
Aside from Zuckerberg’s comments, Facebook has been steadily laying the groundwork for a greater focus on the next generation of technology. This past summer it set up a dedicated metaverse team. More recently, it announced that the head of AR and VR, Andrew Bosworth, will be promoted to chief technology officer. And just a couple of days ago Facebook announced plans to hire 10,000 more employees to work on the metaverse in Europe.

The metaverse is “going to be a big focus, and I think that this is just going to be a big part of the next chapter for the way that the internet evolves after the mobile internet,” Zuckerberg told The Verge’s Casey Newton this summer. “And I think it’s going to be the next big chapter for our company too, really doubling down in this area.”

Complicating matters is that, while Facebook has been heavily promoting the idea of the metaverse in recent weeks, it’s still not a concept that’s widely understood. The term was coined originally by sci-fi novelist Neal Stephenson to describe a virtual world people escape to from a dystopian, real world. Now it’s being adopted by one of the world’s largest and most controversial companies — and it’ll have to explain why its own virtual world is worth diving into.

 

Source: MyBroadband

The South African Local Government Association (Salga) found that 62% of councillors did not have the needed computer skills to pass crucial municipal budgets.

Salga’s national working group chairperson, Bheki Stofile, said in an eNCA interview that they discovered this challenge during lockdown when municipalities had to operate with remote workers.

During the lockdown, municipalities still had to comply with legislative prescripts like passing budgets.

“Many municipalities struggled to comply with prescripts and pass budgets. Councillors are used to meeting under one roof without having to use gadgets,” he said.

“We picked up that many councillors found it difficult to use computing devices when working remotely, which we have to improve in the future.”

Commenting on the level of computer skills among councillors, Stofile said many of them cannot use remote working tools like Zoom.

“Some councillors have an inability to cross from Zoom to access their documents and then move back to Zoom again,” he said.

Stofile said that while they encounter councillors who cannot use a computer at all, most of the problems occur with remote working tools.

He said Salga engaged with political parties to urge them to select councillors with the needed skills to perform their duties, especially in a digital and remote working environment.

The Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Thembisile Simelane-Nkadimeng, bemoaned councillors’ lack of computer literacy in a News24 election podcast.

Simelane-Nkadimeng said she hopes the 2021 municipal elections will result in more capacitated and skilled councillors.

 

Source: Ookla

New research from Ookla shows that MTN is South Africa’s fastest mobile network by some margin, followed by Vodacom and Telkom.

MTN achieved a “Speed Score” of 63.52 in the third quarter of 2021, compared to Vodacom in second place with 42.93. Telkom at 27.56 and Cell C at 21.91 brought up the rear.

 

 

The scores were calculated using end-user devices with “modern chipsets” capable of measuring a network’s full capabilities, Ookla, which owns the popular Speedtest.net service, said in a statement.

CEOs positive about SA’s future

By Banele Ginindza for IOL

The CEOs of the world’s largest businesses are increasingly optimistic about the outlook despite the Covid-19 Delta variant slowing down a ‘return to normal’ – their confidence in both the global and local economy has returned to levels not seen since the start of the pandemic.

According to KPMG South Africa’s 2021 CEO Outlook, in partnership with Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), 88 percent of local leaders said they expect aggressive growth, and were looking to make acquisitions in the next three years to facilitate this and transform their businesses.

The 2021 Global survey draws on the perspectives of 50 CEOs across 10 industries, and their perspective is closely aligned to the global average of 87 percent. The survey included leaders from 11 key markets (Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK and the US) and 11 key industry sectors (asset management, automotive, banking, consumer and retail, energy, infrastructure, insurance, life sciences, manufacturing, technology and telecommunications).

As South Africa’s economy is forecast for a modest 2 percent growth in 2022 with the prospect of a stronger global economy, CEOs are looking to invest in expansion and business transformation.

The survey reveals that 62 percent of senior executives are identifying inorganic methods including joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions and strategic alliances as their organisation’s main strategy to support their growth.

“Despite the risks, there is a clear road to renewal theme emerging this year and no doubt, South African CEOs are both optimistic about growth and are placing a specific emphasis on leading with purpose and digitally transforming their businesses while upskilling an agile workforce,” said Ignatius Sehoole, CEO of KPMG South Africa.

More than half of the CEOs surveyed indicated that organisational purpose will have a profound impact on business – driving performance, shareholder returns and strengthening employee engagement.

“However, while we drive growth, we also face a tough task – leading companies in a time of continued uncertainty where markets and forecasts are dynamic in nature. The main threats to business identified in the survey not surprisingly then, include supply chain, operational concerns and cyber security; followed by climate change, regulatory and emerging or disruptive technology risks,” said BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso.

Some CEOs were embracing the need to push the boundaries of their businesses with quicker shifts in digital transformation strategies and investments a priority.

About 74 percent indicated that technological disruption was more of an opportunity than a threat.

The report said not only were 58 percent well prepared for future cyber-attacks but 54 percent were shifting towards a cloud-first mindset, and aiming to partner with a third-party cloud technology partner in the next three years.

It said similarly, 70 percent were placing more capital investment into buying new technologies.

He said 58 percent of CEOs believe that the top success factor in ensuring that employees were engaged, motivated and productive in the hybrid work model, was investing in digital training, development and upskilling them.

The report said stakeholder expectations of businesses had risen where the actions of organisations and their leaders were under increasing scrutiny, with pressure to demonstrate trust, transparency and purpose.

This means that while employee-first commitment emerges, CEOs were also looking to embed environmental, social and governance (ESG) more strongly into their strategies.

“80 percent recognise that large corporations have the resources to help governments find solutions to pressing global challenges and this becomes a business-critical consideration,” Sehoole said.

Results indicate that 30 percent were planning to invest 10 percent or more of their revenue into the E of ESG, but 68 percent indicated government stimulus was required to turbocharge climate investments made by the business community.

 

By Given Majola for IOL

While cybercrime has increased significantly, there are not enough cybersecurity professionals to keep businesses and individuals safe, leaving them in great jeopardy, says Fortinet regional sales manager Doros Hadjizenonos.

He said the shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals was in the millions globally – affecting up to 82 percent of organisations and possibly tens of thousands in South Africa.

“The Life and Times of Cybersecurity Professionals 2021 report from the Information Systems Security Association and the industry analyst Enterprise Strategy Group shows the cybersecurity skills shortage has not improved and the State of Cybersecurity 2021 reports that 55 percent of survey respondents have unfilled cybersecurity positions.

“At the same time, cyberattacks are soaring. FortiGuard Lab’s midyear Global Threat Landscape Report reveals that ransomware alone has grown over tenfold over the past 12 months,” said Hadjizenonos.

Fortinet, an American multinational corporation that develops and sells cybersecurity solutions, said in the face of a growing cybercrime onslaught, industry leaders, governments and civil society were questioning where the necessary cybersecurity skills would come from to defend organisations against the risks.

Hadjizenonos said in South Africa they believed the answer to the skills shortage lay within the ranks of smart but unemployed youth.

“With up to 44 percent of our labour force without work and as many as 59.5 percent of unemployed people under the age of 35, we have a vast army of potentially tech-savvy people capable of being trained into cyber security positions.

“What’s more, many of these unemployed young people have tertiary qualifications: the graduate unemployment rate is 40.3 percent for those aged 15 to 24 and 15.5 percent among those aged 25 to 34.”

The firm said with the right training and experience, these young people had the potential to bolster a new cyber defence force to support the country’s Fourth Industrial Revolution.

To close the gap, Fortinet said it was committed to closing the cybersecurity skills gap challenge by providing training, certifications and resources through its Training Advancement Agenda initiatives and NSE Training Institute programmes.

Fortinet said it has made all of its self-paced online courses from the Network Security Expert Training Institute available for free, to give all levels of students or information and communications technology practitioners a foundational and advanced understanding of cybersecurity tools and principles.

Since making more than 30 courses available free to anyone worldwide, there have been more than one million registrations for the training courses.

Those interested in transitioning into a career in cybersecurity could also take advantage of Fortinet’s education pathways to enhance their skill sets in specialised areas such as security operations, security-driven networking, adaptive cloud security and zero trust access.

Meanwhile, the Security Academy Programme enables educational institutions around the world to help learners become part of an elite group of skilled cybersecurity professionals.

There are now 420 authorised security academies in 85 countries and territories around the world, including five in South Africa.

Fortinet said it had bolstered its commitment to address the cybersecurity skills gap by pledging to train one million people globally across the next five years through its various training programmes and corporate social responsibility efforts.

 

FNB steps up e-commerce effort

Source: IOL

As a leader in innovation, FNB continues to invest significantly in creating new platform-based capabilities and solutions to ensure that it stays ahead of changing market dynamics and evolving customer needs.

Given the growing need to accelerate the shift from cash to digital and card payments, coupled with the phenomenal growth of eCommerce, the Bank is expanding its payments ecosystem with two industry leading SME solutions, namely FNB WebStore, and FNB Android Speedpoint®device.

The solutions will offer a simple, easy and cost-effective way for businesses in South Africa to accept payments from customers.

FNB CEO, Jacques Celliers says, “Over the last decade the payments industry has seen a dynamic shift – from the internet and smartphones driving the adoption of mobile payments, end of cheques as a form of payment, to the current pandemic-induced reduction in the transactional usage of cash, as well as the boom in eCommerce.”

“Our payments innovations are in tune with the step-change in digital adoption and preference for contactless methods of transacting among customers, while enhancing efficiency and user experience. FNB aims to innovate in a manner that reduces complexity and offers customers more choice and convenient solutions through its trusted digital platform. Therefore, we continue providing payments solutions that are more advanced, safer, and cost-effective for both businesses and individual customers. Our customers and merchants both expect a swift and secure digital experience,” says Celliers.

“As part of our journey, our goal involves enabling both the individual end-user and merchants through an integrated ecosystem. This, for example, leads to a seamless shopping experience whether a customer is paying via Virtual Card, EFT, Tap-to-Pay or Scan-to-Pay via FNB Pay, as well as contactless payments which recently surpassed chip and pin payments. We are excited to continue leading the future of payments in our markets and will continue to invest into our digital platform for a contextual and frictionless experience,” says Raj Makanjee, FNB Retail CEO.

Gordon Little, FNB Commercial CEO says, “Traditionally, the adoption of new payment methods is largely driven by consumer-led demand. However, our objective is to equally empower businesses to support adoption through efficient payment acceptance rails. As a result, our solutions cater for the entire business value chain, of which the ability to process convenient, hassle-free and safe payments is a key component. This will help to facilitate digital payments acceptance among business clients which remains key to helping merchants grow and better service their customers.”

In the coming months, FNB will embark on a phased roll-out of the following solutions:

FNB WebStore

FNB WebStore will provide businesses with a fully functional eCommerce website. While external developers and Content Management Systems (CMS) help a business to create their website, it can often be a complicated and lengthily process.

As a result, with this solution, businesses don’t need design or development skills, won’t carry any costs of hosting or partner integrations, or spend time on writing basic web content and creating web optimized designs. The merchant will have payment capability as part of the package for credit and debit card transactions in a secure manner.

The websites are built on industry leading platforms, WordPress and WooCommerce, with designs based on Divi themes and then tailored for the business’ specific needs and desires. The solution is also integrated with a courier service for product deliveries to customers, as well as integration into social media and basic search engine optimisation (SEO) for marketing the site.

“Creating an online shop is often complicated and expensive, especially for a business who may not have the skills or experience to do it. We hold the merchant’s hand through the process and guide them with creating and designing a modern website, uploading their products, provide support, and connect them to a payments and delivery integration,” explains Little.

FNB Android Speedpoint® device

The new affordable FNB Android POS device has been upgraded with innovative technology that merchants need to keep their businesses up to date and running smoother. This device is designed with business’ needs in mind and includes better functionality and usability.

Additional benefits

Full touch screen for more visibility and information displayed
4G, GPRS, BT and WIFI enabled ensuring your business is always connected to access remote updates
Longer battery life for extended use and less charging time needed.
For more information read here.

 

Oracle to build data centre in Johannesburg

Source: Construction Review

Oracle is constructing its first data centre in Africa as it extends the oracle cloud region footprint in response to the growing demand for its cloud services globally.

As part of its commitment to helping clients all around the world, Oracle announced plans to establish 20 more Oracle Cloud regions by the end of 2020, including one in South Africa. The total number of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure regions will now be 36.

Countries that built data centres included South Africa, the United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, the European Union (Amsterdam), Japan, Australia, India, South Korea, Singapore, Israel, Chile, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

However, because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the American multinational corporation was compelled to postpone a portion of its data centre development plans.

Oracle said that its cloud region in Johannesburg will be one of at least 44 planned by the end of 2022 as part of one of the most aggressive expansions of any major cloud provider.

Milan (Italy), Stockholm (Sweden), Marseille (France), Spain, Singapore, Jerusalem (Israel), Mexico, and Colombia are among the proposed cloud zones. Second zones will be developed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, France, Israel, and Chile.

Oracle South Africa’s national head, Sandhya Ramdhany, announced that the business is in talks with partners and suppliers ahead of the big data centre project.

The new Johannesburg Oracle Data Centre facility, which comes at a time of rapid development in cloud computing in Africa, is anticipated to intensify cloud computing conflicts.

Oracle has had a presence in South Africa for more than three decades, and its solutions and technology have been at the core of numerous breakthroughs in both the public and commercial sectors. Oracle’s cloud region in South Africa is part of its mission to meet customers where they are, allowing businesses to keep data and services where required.

Facebook lost R40k per second during outage

By Breanna Robinson for Indy 100

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp all went down on Monday – and it cost Mark Zuckerberg’s company an eye-watering amount every minute.

Unresponsive feeds on these platforms first occurred shortly after noon eastern time, with people facing error pages.

On Monday, YouTuber and podcaster Chris Williamson took to his Twitter to pose the following question about the platform’s earnings: “Can anyone estimate how much money Facebook will be losing per minute while all sites are down?”

In response to this tweet, Twitter account @whatdope offered this estimated amount:

“Last year’s ad revenue (for Facebook’s sites) was $84.2bn. So, for every minute it’s down, they’re losing around $160,000. Or, $2,670 per second,” they wrote.

Fortune also estimated that, as of the time the company announced it was coming back online, Facebook would have lost around $99.75 million in revenue.

The site based the figure on Facebook’s second quarter earnings, which saw revenue of $29.08 billion over a 91-day period. That works out an average of $319.6 million per day or $13.3-million per hour.

That’s a lot of money.

When the outage happened, Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson, posted a comment on Twitter apologising for the inconvenience of the app.

“We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience,” Stone said in the statement.

Instagram and Twitter also took to their Twitter accounts to update people about the issue.

The widespread disruption was blamed on a “faulty configuration change”, with Facebook saying in a statement: “Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centres caused issues that interrupted this communication.

“This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centres communicate, bringing our services to a halt.”

Facebook also experienced a significant 14-hour outage in 2019 that cost roughly $90 million.

According to a study by Gartner in 2014, the “average cost of downtime is $5,600 per minute”.

The research organisation also noted that this is also isn’t an exact science as there are multiple factors to consider, such as the size of the company and the company’s catered niche or market.

In 2016, the Ponemon Institute published a report that raised Gartner’s average from $5,600 and close to $9,000 per minute.

Game owner Massmart acquires OneCart

By Penelope Mashego for News24

Makro and Game owner, Massmart, has acquired a controlling stake in online shopping and delivery platform, OneCart.

On Wednesday, Massmart announced that it reached an agreement to acquire 87.5% of OneCart after informing the market that both parties had been negotiating the transaction in August.

The online shopping and delivery service’s partners include Woolworths, Pick n Pay Dis-Chem and Clicks.

The acquisition forms part of Massmart’s e-commerce growth strategy.

“We are excited by the opportunities that this acquisition presents. eCommerce continues to grow rapidly, both in South Africa and for Massmart, contributing up to 3-4% participation in overall retail sales. We don’t expect this growth trend to change and have embarked on implementing the fundamental building blocks required for a strong ecommerce offering,” said Massmart’s vice-president for group eCommerce, Sylvester John.

He added that Massmart would continue to support OneCart’s independent retailer marketplace model, while growing the platform and enhancing customer experience.

The retail chain owner will provide equity funding to OneCart through an unsecured convertible loan and acquire shares from current OneCart shareholders. Onecart’s founder Lynton Peters and a minority shareholder will own the balance of the shares.

The transaction will be finalised once it has approval from authorities and has met the required conditions.

 

The entirety of Twitch has been leaked

By Chris Scullion for Video Game Chronicles 

An anonymous hacker claims to have leaked the entirety of Twitch, including its source code and user payout information.

The user posted a 125GB torrent link to 4chan on Wednesday, stating that the leak was intended to “foster more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space” because “their community is a disgusting toxic cesspool”.

VGC can verify that the files mentioned on 4chan are publicly available to download as described by the anonymous hacker.

One anonymous company source told VGC that the leaked data is legitimate, including the source code for the Amazon-owned streaming platform.

Internally, Twitch is aware of the breach, the source said, and it’s believed that the data was obtained as recently as Monday.

Twitch has confirmed the leak is authentic: “We can confirm a breach has taken place. Our teams are working with urgency to understand the extent of this. We will update the community as soon as additional information is available. Thank you for bearing with us.”

The leaked Twitch data reportedly includes:

  • The entirety of Twitch’s source code with comment history “going back to its early beginnings”
  • Creator payout reports from 2019
  • Mobile, desktop and console Twitch clients
  • Proprietary SDKs and internal AWS services used by Twitch
  • “Every other property that Twitch owns” including IGDB and CurseForge
  • An unreleased Steam competitor, codenamed Vapor, from Amazon Game Studios
  • Twitch internal ‘red teaming’ tools (designed to improve security by having staff pretend to be hackers)

Some Twitter users have started making their way through the 125GB of information that has leaked, with one claiming that the torrent also includes encrypted passwords, and recommending that users enable two-factor authentication to be safe.

If you have a Twitch account, it’s recommended that you also turn on two-factor authentication, which ensures that even if your password is compromised, you still need your phone to prove your identity using either SMS or an authenticator app.

To turn on two-factor identification:

  • Log on to Twitch, click your avatar and choose Settings
  • Go to Security and Privacy, then scroll down to the Security setting
  • Choose Edit Two-Factor Authentication to see if it’s already activated. If not, follow the instructions to turn it on (you’ll need your phone)

The torrent also reportedly includes Unity code for a game called Vapeworld, which appears to be chat software based on Amazon’s unreleased Steam competitor Vapor.

Meanwhile, Vapor, the codename for an alleged in-development Steam competitor, is claimed to integrate many of Twitch’s features into a bespoke game store.

Finally, the leaked documents allegedly show that popular streamers such as Shroud, Nickmercs and DrLupo have earned millions from working with the popular streaming platform.

What it doesn’t include is money that streamers have earned outside of Twitch, including merchandise, YouTube revenue, sponsorships and external donations.

The anonymous leaker has stated that this is just the first part of the content due to be leaked, but hasn’t stated what they plan to also release.

One cyber security expert said on Wednesday that, if fully confirmed, the Twitch hack “will be the biggest leak I have ever seen”.

Twitch has regularly found itself under fire from creators and users who feel the site doesn’t take enough action against problematic members of the Twitch community.

Last month a group of Twitch streamers called on other channels and viewers to boycott the site for 24 hours as a response to hate raids.

On the same day as the campaign was initially announced, Twitch posted a thread on Twitter explaining that it was attempting to stop hate raids but that it was not “a simple fix”.

“No one should have to experience malicious and hateful attacks based on who they are or what they stand for,” it stated. “This is not the community we want on Twitch, and we want you to know we are working hard to make Twitch a safer place for creators.

“Hate spam attacks are the result of highly motivated bad actors, and do not have a simple fix. Your reports have helped us take action – we’ve been continually updating our sitewide banned word filters to help prevent variations on hateful slurs, and removing bots when identified.

“We’ve been building channel-level ban evasion detection and account improvements to combat this malicious behaviour for months. However, as we work on solutions, bad actors work in parallel to find ways around them – which is why we can’t always share details.”

 

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