Tag: infrastructure

Supply chains suffer in flood aftermath

By Siphelele Dludla for IOL

Image credit: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

The business sector has welcomed the declaration of a National State of Disaster to tackle the severe economic impact of the floods which resulted in deaths, damage to infrastructure and loss of production.

Last week’s devastating floods left untold destruction and at least 443 people dead while almost 50 others are unaccounted for.

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) yesterday (TUES) said the declaration of a disaster signalled the seriousness with which the government was tackling the task, as well as the lessons learned from the emergency responses in the last few years.

BLSA chief executive Busi Mavuso said urgent lifesaving support must be a priority, but it was important that businesses and the authorities also focus on restoring transport connections.

“The search and recovery effort is clearly the priority, while also bringing immediate relief to those who are vulnerable,” Mavuso said.

“But it is also important that we swiftly deal with the economic impact of the floods, particularly to unlock key logistics routes. The recovery thereafter is going to be critical as we rebuild infrastructure.”

Mavuso said that unnecessary delays in resuming normal operations meant a greater cost to the economy, resulting in lost employment and revenue.

“However, even properly maintained infrastructure cannot meet the effects of climate change,” she said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night declared a national state of disaster to ensure an effective response to the extreme weather events.

Extreme flooding in KZN and in some parts of Eastern Cape a week ago left nearly 4 000 homes completely destroyed and more than 8 300 others partially damaged.

It is also estimated that more than 40 000 people have been displaced by the floods.

Supply chains were disrupted as damage to Bayhead Road which handles 13 000 heavy vehicles per day, prevented access to the Port of Durban.

“The damage caused to businesses in the area has not been fully quantified, but assessments so far suggest that the eThekwini Metro accounts for nearly half of all the reported damage,” Ramaphosa said.

“The Port of Durban – which is one of the largest and busiest shipping terminals on the continent and which is vital to our country’s economy – has been severely affected.”

Bank of America’s sub-Saharan Africa economist Tatonga Rusike said agriculture and mining were two key sectors that could be directly affected by disruption at the port.

“Movement of coal exports has already been facing structural constraints with Transnet rail system limiting amount of production volumes,” Rusike said.

“Shipping containers have been displaced and affected Transnet’s decision to halt operations temporarily. The Port of Durban is also a regional hub for goods including vehicle exports and imports for neighboring countries.”

Ramaphosa vowed to prevent corruption, mismanagement and fraud in the R1 billion funding that will be appropriated to provide relief and to rebuild KZN.

Corruption Watch executive director Karam Singh said the best way to ensure that funds were correctly allocated and spent, was to have systems in place that allow government, oversight bodies and civil society to monitor the allocations and spending.

“There must be absolute transparency and full disclosure of how these funds are being distributed, ensuring that they reach the communities for whom they are intended,” Singh said.

“The Auditor-General must be activated to do real time audits of spending, in a potentially effective and appropriate preventative measure that should be used in this instance.”

 

MTN, Vodacom networks hit by floods

By Sibongile Khumalo for News24

The torrential rains that have battered parts of KwaZulu-Natal since Saturday have shut down 500 MTN network sites in the region, the cellphone company said on Tuesday.

“The flooding in the KZN region has caused power outages at many of our sites, and while we have battery back-up at many of the sites, these batteries have been depleted,” says Jacqui O’Sullivan, MTN SA’s spokesperson.

According to the country’s second-largest cellular network provider, some of the areas impacted by the outage at this stage include Durban South, South Coast, Umlazi, Amanzimtoti, Ballito, and Salt Rock.

Technicians are working to restore connectivity in the affected areas.

Mayor of eThekwini Mxolisi Kaunda has told media that the flooding had resulted in damage to roads and had knocked out electricity supply to several parts of the city. Several water supply lines have also been affected.

Several regions across the country have been hit by heavy rains since last weekend.

Meanwhile Vodacom spokesperson, Byron Kennedy, said over 400 network towers of the company from the north to the south coast of Durban have been impacted due to disruptions to electricity supply. He said areas from Ballito to Amanzimtoti, in the south, “are currently experiencing intermittent mobile services”.

Some fibre infrastructure is also affected due to water-logged fibre ducts.

Kennedy said efforts to restore sites were being hampered by severe damage to roads and certain facilities not being accessible due to the risk of electrical shocks.

Provincial disaster management teams have revealed that over 45 people have lost their lives as a result of the heavy rains, according to a statement issued by the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sipho Hlomuka.

 

Source: MyBroadband

Telkom and Openserve are accused of unlawfully using network infrastructure of another provider to offer fibre broadband services.

The unlawful use of network infrastructure was discovered during the recent R30-million upgrade of the fibre optic cable network in Midstream Estate.

To fully understand the situation, it is necessary to go back to the early 2000s when Midstream Estate was in the development stage.

During this phase, the developer Bondev registered servitude for the installation and maintenance of a telecommunications network.

It built a primary set of sleeves to provide telecoms services in the estate. A separate set of sleeves were also installed by Bondev and handed to Telkom for their purposes.

Over time the Telkom sleeves network and connection pits were extended, and fibre optic cables were installed by contractors under the instruction of Telkom and Openserve.

Supersonic, a subsidiary of MTN, entered into a long-term agreement with Bondev in 2016 to use the primary set of sleeves and kiosks to install fibre and provide broadband access to Midstream residents.

In 2018 Supersonic made important changes to its service in Midstream Estate. This included upgrading the entire fibre optic cable network.

What was discovered during this upgrade was that Telkom/Openserve or their sub-contractors unlawfully used the Bondev sleeve network and kiosks to provide services.

Midstream Estate said these unlawful connections must now be removed from the Bondev and Supersonic infrastructure.

This is needed to “prevent future unauthorised and unlawful access to either the sleeves or kiosks which may lead to damage of the expensive network installed”.

A challenge is that the cables through the kiosks are unlabelled which made it impossible to identify these irregular cables.

They are now removed in bulk, along with the legacy cables of Supersonic.

This is causing service interruption to houses where Telkom/Openserve unlawfully used Bondev’s infrastructure.

“In a few instances, contractors took matter into their own hands and damaged or vandalised some of the kiosks,” the manager added.

He said a process has started to claim damages from the parties involved.

Another problem is that Telkom contractors, in some cases, used the Supersonic fibre to pull Openserve fibre into homes.

They allegedly broke open the Bondev kiosks and unlawfully used this infrastructure to serve their needs.

This causes damage to the Supersonic fibre network and resulted in downtime for clients.

Telkom responded to the allegations, saying Openserve has the largest fibre infrastructure in South Africa and does not occupy other operator’s infrastructure without agreement.

It said Openserve has legal access to roll out fibre infrastructure in Midstream Estate and has its own conduits in the estate.

It explained Midstream Estate has a unique situation of two telecommunications infrastructures which creates the confusion.

In some instances, due to poor identification of conduits, operators lay infrastructure in the wrong ducts.

“The agreement in Midstream Estate with the operators is to correct this following the issue of a 7-day notice,” it said.

What is interesting about this case is that Telkom has previously launched a legal challenge against Vodacom for the unlawful use of Telkom infrastructure in the Dennegeur residential estate.

This came after the Homeowners’ Associations of 15 private residential estates in the Western Cape invited Vodacom to install fibre in their complexes.

Telkom already had underground conduits in these estates which it used for telephone lines and ADSL services.

Vodacom asked Telkom to use its ducts, but Telkom refused. It argued it was not obliged to share its infrastructure.

Vodacom installed fibre in these ducts anyway, which resulted in a protracted legal battle between the two parties.

Vodacom also filed a complaint with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) regarding Telkom’s unwillingness to enter into a Facilities Leasing agreement.

ICASA determined that the sharing of duct infrastructure in these estates was “technically and economically feasible”, and “promoted the efficient use of networks and services”.

The legal battles also went Vodacom’s way.

The Western Cape High Court initially ruled that Vodacom unlawfully accessed its duct infrastructure, but this ruling was overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

The SCA ruled that Telkom did not possess the infrastructure which formed part of Dennegeur, but that it was owned, occupied, and controlled by the Home Owners Association.

Telkom tried to fight this ruling, but the SCA denied Telkom leave to appeal. The ruling effectively forces Telkom to share its cable ducts with competing fibre network operators.

It is interesting that Telkom was therefore simultaneously using other operators’ infrastructure and trying to declare others using its infrastructure unlawful.

 

By Johan Scheepers, country head at Commvault South Africa

The Covid-19 pandemic forced many businesses to swiftly adapt to a digital world. Working from home is set to become the ‘new normal’ for many workers who previously went into a corporate office environment. But protecting businesses from the effects of the pandemic goes beyond simply keeping employees safe and healthy. In addition to driving a growing Work From Home (WFH) movement, the rapid digital shift also sent cybercrime into overdrive. Businesses that do not prioritise data management in this digital world place themselves at a serious risk of security and compliance issues.

Data governance has not changed

Although the physical boundaries of many organisations have shifted to include a remote workforce, the policies around data governance and data protection have not changed. In fact, it is important to be more vigilant than ever, and actively work to extend these policies and processes to the edge.

WFH makes data more vulnerable, because of the many new toolsets it introduces as well as the potential for data to be stored in unsanctioned locations and on unsecured devices. Collaboration tools by their nature require the sharing of data, which can create a sensitive data risk if these tools are not brought into the data management strategy. Remote workers may also be saving sensitive files on the endpoint devices, which further complicates data governance. Endpoints are one of the biggest data risks, especially when it comes to highly targeted spear phishing attacks.

Access and permissions need to be managed

WFH highlights the risk of data access and permission – for example, a person may download a file, and then email it to their personal account, save it on their laptop and then send it to colleagues for comment. This generates multiple versions of files that may contain sensitive information. In turn, this not only creates additional vulnerabilities, but makes compliance with the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPIA) and other data protection legislation like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) practically impossible.

Organisations need to be able to identify sensitive data as well as whether or not employees actually need to be able to access it. It is also important to put policies in place around what can be done with the data if it is permissible to access it. Should employees be able to download it? Where should they be able to save it? How should they be permitted to share it? This is crucial for governance as well as compliance purposes.

On the hotlist

Security and compliance are always essential, but even more so in the current climate. South Africa is a hot target at present, and many large organisations have been hit with ransomware in recent times. Security is obviously paramount, but alongside it is the need to educate users about security risks. An organisation’s network is like an egg – the shell is tough, but once it is penetrated the insides are an easy target. The WFH movement has simply increased the attack surface, or the soft part of the egg, and bad actors are using this to their benefit to speed up ransomware attacks.

Compliance regulations enforce the protection of company data by law, but the reality is that data management is necessary and even beneficial, even without the risk of fines and reputational damage. Data protection itself has come a long way over the years and is now offered as a service that runs seamlessly in the background, so it is not an invasive practice. This needs to be combined with a single, cohesive view of data across the organisation, to improve efficiency and mitigate risk.

At the edge

The edge is the most vulnerable point of any network, and with the edge now extended into homes and remote offices, data management is key. This multi-cloud hybrid environment means that data is scattered across locations, so a proper toolset to provide a single view of risk is paramount. If you cannot see your data, you cannot manage it. It is essential to identify data, understand where you are at risk and what your exposure is, and know how to apply regulations to ensure adherence and compliance. Preventing the pandemic from affecting your business is about more than social distance – you need to look after your data as well.

 

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