Tag: data

By Phillip de Wet for Business Insider SA

South Africa’s largest ever data breach has now been contained, says credit bureau Experian, which handed over the personal details of some 24 million people to an individual it now calls a fraudster.

But it is still not clear what happened between the end of May – when Experian handed over that data – and mid August, when that containment actually took place.

On Thursday Experian confirmed that what it terms “the release” took place on 24 May and 27 May. That was when it handed over data including ID numbers, telephone numbers, and physical and e-mail addresses of more than 23 million individuals and nearly 800,000 businesses to someone who presented themselves as authorised to have that information.

As of Thursday, South Africa’s largest banks are warning affected and potentially affected customers to exercise heightened vigilance, because that information could be used in identify theft attempts, or to convince people to hand over more information.

For all of June, July, and the first two weeks of August, customers were not aware of that possibility, though, as Experian first sought to plug the leak.

This week the company said it had secured the hardware the information had been stored on via an Anton Piller, a court order that allows for search and seizure without prior warning in order to preserve evidence in civil cases.

“[W]e delayed publishing the incident due thereto that the Anton Piller is reliant on the element of surprise and we therefore could not make the incident public,” the company told Business Insider South Africa on Thursday.

Experian said it had detected the breach on 22 July – 57 days after handing over the data.

“The fraud was detected once Experian struggled to contact the representative of the company on his mobile and then attempted to make contact on the company’s landline,” the company said in response to questions. “The actual person who was impersonated confirmed that he did not have any dealings with Experian.”

It immediately started to investigate, Experian said, but needed “to ensure that we have the necessary evidence that is required to apply for the Anton Piller order.”

It actually applied for that order on 13 August, 79 days after handing over the data.

The order was fully executed by 18 August – 84 days after the breach.

On Thursday Experian said it believes “that the incident has been contained”, after it seized hardware from the suspected fraudster and the data was “secured and deleted”.

Asked why it believed the data had not been sold or otherwise passed on in three months, the company said:

“We have been monitoring the various platforms (i.e. the dark web) to ascertain whether the data is being offered for sale. We also employed a leading digital forensic investigator to assist us with our efforts.

“Also, from our internal investigations we ascertained that the fraudster conducts an insurance and credit services market place and uses the information to contact consumers in order to offer services to consumers.

“Due to the serious nature of the Anton Piller order, we are not permitted to share any details around this.”

The company also reiterated that it believes the breach was not that big a deal, as the “consumer information concerned was publicly available information”.

Beware this uncapped data scam

By Hanno Labuschagne for MyBroadband

Mobile users in South Africa should be wary of scammers claiming to offer data or airtime packages at suspiciously low prices.

An online-based scam which claimed to sell unlimited prepaid data, voice calls, and messaging bundles was recently pointed out by MyBroadband Forum members.

A party calling itself “Unlimited Prepaid Bundles” was selling several mobile products which it claimed worked on Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Telkom’s networks.

The scammers had also taken out sponsored ads on Facebook for these “unlimited” bundles.

Upon visiting the Facebook page for “Unlimited Prepaid Bundles”, we discovered several early warning signs of trouble.

The first was the suspiciously low pricing of the bundles, which included an uncapped monthly data bundle at R249 and yearly uncapped data at R799.

After MyBroadband lodged these queries, the Facebook page and website of the scammers were taken down.

MyBroadband notified African Bank of the site and provided the details of the bank account which was being used to scam buyers. The bank confirmed it had launched a forensic investigation into the account.

Vodacom slashes data prices by up to 40%

Source: Tech Financials

Vodacom has cut data prices by up to 40% and will provide free data to access essential services through Vodacom’s zero-rated platform ConnectU with immediate effect.

The value of these initiatives is some R2.7-billion over the next year.

Vodacom’s various 30-day data bundle prices will be cut across all of its channels by up to 40%, providing customers with even greater value and making it more affordable to connect.

30-day bundle size price reduction

  • 50MB R12 – cut by 40%
  • 150MB R29 – cut by 33%
  • 325MB R55 – cut by 33%
  • 500MB R79 – cut by 21%
  • 1GB R99 – cut by 34%
  • 3GB R229 – cut by 23%
  • 5GB R349 – cut by 14%
  • 10GB R469 – cut by 22%
  • 20GB R699 – cut by 31%

Jorge Mendes, Chief Officer of Vodacom’s Consumer Business Unit, says: “Vodacom can play a critical role in supporting society during this challenging time and we’re committed to doing whatever we can to help customers stay connected. Since we started our pricing transformation strategy three years ago, our customers have benefitted from significant reductions in data prices and the cost of voice calls. Over the same period, we invested over R26 billion in infrastructure and new technologies, so our customers enjoy wider 2G, 3G and 4G coverage and vastly increased data speeds.”

The latest data reductions will complement the discounted bundle offers that will also be made available to prepaid customers in more than 2,000 less affluent suburbs and villages around the country. For qualifying communities to access further discounted voice and data deals, they need to simply click on the scrolling ConnectU banner on the platform via connectu.vodacom.co.za

ConnectU – which is a zero-rated platform – also goes live today. It will provide content aimed at social development and offers a variety of essential services for free. Learners and students enrolled in schools and universities can access relevant information for free, with no data costs.

The ConnectU portal includes a search engine linked to open sources such as Wikipedia and Wiktionary as well as free access to job portals; free educational content on the e-School platform; free health and wellness information and free access to Facebook Flex, the low data alternative to Facebook that enables customers to stay socially connected.

Vodacom’s popular Just4You platform has been a significant contributor to the approximately 50% reduction in effective data prices over the past two years. Substantial cuts in out-of-bundle tariffs and the introduction of hourly, daily and weekly bundles with much lower effective prices have also driven increased value and affordability, resulting in R2 billion in savings for customers in 2019.

This latest announcement is part of Vodacom’s social contract with the public and has been extensively discussed and agreed with the Competition Commission.

“Today’s price cuts and free access to ConnectU will also assist South Africans during the national state of disaster while at the same time helping to drive greater digital inclusion,” concludes Mendes.

By Yolisa Tswanya for IOL

They said it could’ve been slashed even further, but consumers have for now accepted a 34% reduction in Vodacom’s data prices.

Yesterday, it became the first network giant to comply with the Competition Commission’s call to lower data prices.

Morné Grewe said he was happy a decision has finally been made: “It will make a difference for many people.

“Even though it’s by 34%, it is a step in the right direction.

“It will make a difference to people and they won’t be spending so much per month on data.”

Beronisha Cloete said she found Vodacom to have good coverage but high prices: “I have never had any real problems with them.

“It can be a little lower, but it is what it is and we accept it.”

Nomzamo Balangile said the price reduction would allow her to buy data more regularly.

“I don’t always buy data because it’s expensive, but now maybe I will be able to buy more times a month,” she added. “I am glad they are lowering the price.”

Nedbank’s client data hacked

Source: Xinhuanet

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.

Disappearing MTN airtime caused by SMS error

By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband

MTN has investigated a report of disappearing airtime on its network and found the cause to be an issue with its SMS charging system.

An MTN customer recently contacted MyBroadband after noticing that his airtime balance was decreasing, despite him having active voice, SMS, and data bundles.

The customer recorded his MTN airtime balance over a 10-day period and found that his balance was depleting at a rate of around R0.10 per day.

This resulted in a total loss of R1.00 over the 10-day test.

Additionally, out-of-bundle data usage was not active for the user.

Faulty SMS charging node
MTN executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan said the depleting airtime was caused by a problem with an SMS charging node.

“Upon our investigation, we have established that our customer’s airtime was incorrectly depleted due to a faulty node which is used for SMS charging,” O’Sullivan said.

“The number format for the B-number was not being normalised to 083 format, but was instead being sent as 2783 which resulted in incorrect charging.”

“This node is one of eight which is used in a round-robin method for SMS charging,” she said.

O’Sullivan added that the node was detected and removed from traffic on 20 December 2019, which is why the customer’s airtime remained unchanged from this date.

Customers affected
It is currently unclear how many customers were affected by the faulty SMS charging node, but MTN is investigating this to determine which users to reimburse.

“We have extended our investigation to establish the number of customers that may have been affected by this error,” O’Sullivan said.

According to the mobile operator, the error affected SMS services for a number of its prepaid and hybrid customers.

“Pending the outcome of this investigation, we intend communicating to affected customers regarding their reimbursement.”

By Riccardo Spagni for Fin24

Privacy is widely held as a fundamental human right and is recognised in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and in the Constitution of nearly every country in the world.

Privacy is becoming a growing concern as the world continues its mass digitisation. As we move more of our day-to-day business and personal communications and interactions online, the trail of personal data breadcrumbs we leave behind grows.

Take something as simple as an online transaction: when the average consumer pays a merchant in Europe via their PayPal account, their data goes to as many as 600 different companies. The consumer has zero visibility over any of the companies involved. The amount of metadata about our lives is staggering – and we have no control over any of it.

Financial privacy and its malcontents

Regulators have tried to resolve some of the issues around data privacy and use of personal information by businesses. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation is a far-reaching piece of legislation that aims to protect EU citizens from unwanted or unauthorised personal data use. Although the upper limits of its sanctions still need to be tested, GDPR promises fines of up to €20-million to organisations that compromise the personal data of any EU citizen.

But for most transactions, consumers and businesses remain at the mercy of a vast network of interlinked companies that process and distribute our personal metadata across the globe. A lot of this is driven by convenience: when cash was still the preferred payment method, people enjoyed a fair amount of privacy as cash transactions can be concluded away from any prying eyes.

With the introduction of electronic payment methods such as wire transfers, SWIFT, credit cards and mobile payments, privacy has been sacrificed for convenience. The amount of Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) processes in place means consumers have little in the way of financial privacy as financial services firms are bound by law to constantly analyse transactions for any irregularities and report them to authorities where appropriate.

Shining a light on criminality

Financial crime is a massive problem. A 2018 Thomson Reuters survey of 2373 respondents in 19 countries – including South Africa – found that the aggregate lost turnover as a result of financial crimes amounted to $1.45-trillion, or 3.5% of their total global turnover. In Europe, on average one in every 200 transactions reviewed by bank compliance officers lead to a criminal investigation, but only 1% of criminal proceeds generated in the EU are confiscated by authorities.

But financial privacy is not only important to criminals; it is a critical safety measure for every digital citizen. Without financial privacy, personal and financial safety can be compromised by criminals who could, for example, see the value of a purchase that someone made – as well as their personal details – and use that information to target them with criminal activities. As a business, financial privacy keeps intimate business details such as salary information, profit margins and revenue away from unwanted eyes.

Cryptocurrencies often come into the firing line for their anonymity and lack of regulatory oversight. High-profile examples of illicit purchases on the dark web using cryptocurrencies have made regulators wary of their potential for driving criminal activity.

Not all cryptocurrencies are made equal

A large part of the appeal of cryptocurrencies is that they are more discrete than mainstream payment methods. And while this is partly what makes them attractive to criminals, it is unfair to assume all discrete transactions are criminal. We all make purchases we would rather other people not know about, for fear of embarrassment or judgement. Anonymity also has its benefits: who hasn’t suddenly seen a spike in advertisements related to something you once searched for online, or saw similar products to one you’ve just bought advertised on sites you visit?

Privacy enhancing cryptocurrencies are built on five pillars, namely:

  • Unlinkability, which conceals where transactions are going to;
  • Untraceability, which conceals the origins of transactions;
  • Cryptgraphically valueless, which hides the value of a transaction;
  • Passively hidden, which conceals the transaction from other internet users; and
  • Optionality, which maximises the privacy set while still enabling you to reveal information should you need to.

But not all cryptocurrencies are created equal. And not all have the privacy of their users as a primary concern. Cryptocurrencies such as Monero were built to provide users with the optimum amount of privacy. That’s why I’d add a sixth pillar to the above, namely Ideology. Since cryptocurrencies involve thousands – even millions – of people, it is critical that the cryptocurrency is managed according to a strict set of privacy-enhancing guidelines.

Every contributor to Monero, for example, understands they are responsible for other people’s money, privacy and, by extension, safety. Contributors could, through reckless actions, compromise someone’s financial security or even their lives. Any privacy project that treats it with less care is indistinguishable from a scam and can put people’s lives at risk.

There’s a popular argument that honest people don’t need privacy since they have nothing to hide. But that’s fallacy. As Edward Snowden put it, “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different to saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”

Financial privacy is a fundamental human right. Technology can be both the greatest inhibitor or promoter of privacy. The responsibility rests on all of us who participate in the new world of cryptocurrencies to ensure we protect the privacy of our users.

By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband

A Vodacom customer contacted MyBroadband this week stating that their mobile data bundles were being depleted on a “Last In First Out” (LIFO) basis, which is in contravention of ICASA’s regulations which came into effect on 1 March 2019.

Among other requirements, these regulations require networks to deplete data on a “First In First Out” (FIFO) basis.

This means that your older data bundles should be used up before your newer bundles in order to optimise the amount of data eligible for rollover.

Depleting newer data bundles first means that the average expiry date of a customer’s rolled-over data balance becomes earlier.

The customer who contacted MyBroadband received a 20GB data bundle on 1 March 2019 and was left with 4.27GB of this bundle on 31 March 2019. On 1 April 2019, the customer then received a new 20GB data bundle.

According to the FIFO system, the bundle with a balance of 4.27GB should have been depleted first when usage occurred – but the new 20GB bundle which expired on 30 April began depleting instead.

MyBroadband contacted Vodacom for feedback on this case to determine whether this was an isolated incident or a possible failure to switch to the new rules.

Vodacom responds
Vodacom told MyBroadband that applying new systems in line with the regulations to its large customer base was a technical challenge.

“To meet the requirements of the regulations, Vodacom had to apply an order of consumption rule change to a base of over 40 million subscribers in addition to a number of other changes brought about by ICASA’s charter,” Vodacom stated.

“As one might expect with a complex and technical implementation of this magnitude – arguably one of the largest in Vodacom’s history – there will be some glitches.”

Vodacom said its technical team has worked tirelessly to resolve these when they arise and is currently investigating the case mentioned above.

“[The affected customer]’s case is an isolated incident that our technical team is currently investigating as all customers should have their data depleting according to the FIFO order of consumption rules,” Vodacom stated.

Vodacom added that its new data depletion system has already been implemented which automatically prevents out-of-bundle use.

Customers can also purchase Vodacom’s Data Refill product or set an out-of-bundle limit if they wish to retain connectivity after depleting their data bundle.

By Chantall Presence for IOL 

Vodacom on Wednesday announced it would rollover data for free following outrage from its customers and South Africa’s telecommunications regulator.

The mobile operator had initially indicated it would charge customers R49 to rollover unused data or transfer to data to friends and family.

In a statement, Vodacom detailed its new tariffs ahead of new data rules taking effect this week.

“From 1 March, remaining data on bundle purchases by all customers will be rolled over at no additional charge once a customer purchases the same bundle as the original one,” the statement said.

Transferring unused data will, however, come at a cost.

“Customers will be able to transfer data that is about to expire to friends and family on the Vodacom network for fees ranging from free for 50MB up to a maximum of R20 for 1GB.”

In a bid to lower the high cost of data in South Africa, the End-User and Subscriber Service Charter regulations were amended and come into effect on Thursday.

The new rules on data include consumers being notified of how much data they are consuming, people being given the option to roll over or transfer data before it expires, and mobile operators not being able to charge consumers out of bundle rates without their prior consent.

Rain and Huawei roll out high-speed 5G in SA

By Siseko Njobeni for Business Live

SA’s data-only network operator Rain, which is partly owned by businessmen Patrice Motsepe, Paul Harris and Michael Jordaan, has partnered with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to roll out the high-speed 5G network by the middle of 2019.

The roll-out will make SA one of the first countries to launch 5G, which promises faster download speeds, reliable network connectivity and the ability to connect more devices at once.

“The network will provide fibre-like speeds without installation complexities, time delays and cost of laying fibre in underserviced areas,” Rain CEO Willem Roos said on Tuesday.

Rain and Huawei made the announcement at the 2019 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, where 5G took centre stage.

“5G is here. If there is any doubt, you only have to walk around [the conference],” said Harris, who is also Rain chair.

He said that the development of 5G products later in the year would hit the industry like a tsunami.

Roos said Rain would take advantage of its existing 4G network and allocated spectrum.

Huawei said its products would enable Rain to use the existing network, saying leveraging existing infrastructure would accelerate the roll-out of the 5G network. Rain had about 3,000 4G sites in SA, Roos said.

“It is well-known that as broadband penetration increases in a country, you get better economic growth. With better economic growth, you can see improvement in employment. We are big supporters of [President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan] to re-energise investment in SA.

“We made a promise to invest a significant amount of money in 5G,” Roos said.

“We hope to have rolled out a significant number of towers in [Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban] by mid-2019 to offer commercial services to clients.”

Rain planned to roll out the network rapidly, aiming for “significant” coverage in metropolitan areas initially, he said. The company said it wanted to deploy 1,000 5G sites in major cities in the next two years.

Responding to a question during the announcement, Roos said Rain had no immediate plans to expand to the rest of Africa. “Obviously, there is complexity around spectrum, licences and those kinds of issues. Certainly, SA can play a crucial role as the gateway to Africa. We will see if commercial opportunities that make sense arise.”

GSMA director-general Mats Granryd said: “The arrival of 5G forms a major part of the world’s move towards an era of intelligent connectivity, which alongside developments in the Internet of Things, big data and artificial intelligence, is poised to be a key driver of economic growth over the coming years.”

GSMA is a global mobile industry body.

It said in a report that 5G would account for 15% of global mobile connections by 2025.

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