Tag: safety

CAA grounds BA, Kulula

Source: Simple Flying 

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) had initially suspended the air operator certificate for Comair for 24-hours as a precautionary measure, effectively grounding its fleet and affecting passengers using low-cost airline Kulula, as well as flights for British Airways.

Effective from 12 March, the SACAA made a sudden decision to suspend all the flights that affected several passengers, creating havoc in airports across South Africa. The snap suspension arose from the SACAA’s investigations into a number of safety incidents involving Comair and its airlines: low-cost subsidiary Kulula and British Airways in South Africa.

Still not safe to fly

Following the initial 24-hour suspension, the South African carrier was quick to rectify one of the operational issues raised as an effort to confirm its compliance with applicable Civil Aviation Regulations (CARs).

The quick response was due to Comair hoping to resume its flights by Sunday latest, but the hopes were promptly dashed as the initial suspension soon became indefinite the SACAA said they were pending resolution to various other issues. As SACAA spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu said:

“As the documentation comes in, our inspectors are actually sitting and reviewing. They have worked for two nights flat with no sleep just going through [the evidence] because we do understand the inconvenience this causes to the public because from our side it’s important that there is business continuity. Last night we dispatched a letter to [Comair] in terms of all the evidence they have submitted [but] unfortunately we had to ask for additional evidence.”

This then once again prompted Comair to submit additional documentation as continued efforts to resume operations as soon as possible. This might take longer than the airline would like, as SACAA is looking to review more than just the airline’s compliance, but also its quality control and safety management systems.

Comair is not pleased

Obviously, the change from a 24-hour suspension to an indefinite suspension is not the least bit pleasing to Comair, which has been in business rescue since May 2020. On the other hand, the airline has thus far not used its entitlement to appeal the precautionary suspension, as according to Gwebu who added that:

“They have a right to appeal, in fact they have several avenues that they can actually pursue. As of now I’m not aware that they have appealed the decision.”

Considering that this is the third time since 2007 that Comair has been grounded due to safety concerns, and factoring in the SACAA’s findings on technical problems within the past month alone – which ranges from engine failures, engine malfunctions, and landing gear malfunctions, amongst others, it probably does not come as a surprise as to why the airline is choosing to not appeal.

The financial difficulties and probable lack of manpower or lack of technician training could have led to these technical problems, all the more a reason for the airline to not be pleased with the suspension as time on the ground is money not made. If anything, the only thing that airline can probably do right now is to continue showing its compliance, and providing whatever information it is that the SACAA requires, as Gwebu mentioned:

“If they meet the requirements we will uplift the suspension. At the heart of our mandate is to ensure that everyone is safe including the crew itself.”

By Jonathan Smit for IOL

With the increased threat of Covid-19, South Africans are being encouraged to stay home and shop online. Over the past year, local retailers have improved the safety and convenience of their e-commerce platforms, allowing customers to avoid exposure via queues and physical contact. Online stores and shopping apps are experiencing record order volumes as a result of the third wave of Covid-19.

To avoid digital payment fraud and scams, here is the list of safety precautions to follow when making purchases through your smartphone or desktop.

Before making any online purchase, your first priority is to verify the legitimacy of the merchant you’re buying from. Doing the research beforehand can save you the trouble of trying to get your money back after you’ve paid, which is considerably more difficult.

Only make purchases through secure websites: Ensure that you are on a secure domain before entering any confidential information such as your payment details. Look out for the ‘S’ in HTTPS at the start of the website’s URL, which is found in the address bar at the top of your browser. Depending on what browser you use, you will see a padlock in the left-hand side in the address bar

Read the returns and refund policy: The merchant is responsible for dealing with your order. If an issue occurs with your order, such as if you decide to cancel your order or it never arrives, you should know what your rights are and how you can expect the merchant to assist.

Read customer reviews: Take a look at comments on the merchant’s social media pages and read customer reviews on Google to ensure that the company has a good history of delivering products as promised. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Check out using secure payment options: Look up reviews on the payment options on offer before committing to checkout. You should always choose to checkout and pay with a payment method that you are familiar with and trust.

Don’t store your credit card information in a browser: When shopping online, you may be prompted to save your card details. This could be either a pop-up message within your browser or when checking out on an e-commerce website. By doing this, you could risk exposing your card holder details to other users of the device or put yourself at risk if the device is stolen.

Save card holder details to Payment Card Industry (PCI) verified merchant websites: Many websites give you an option to save your details with a tokenised ‘single-click’ style payment facility to speed up the checkout process on future purchases. This is considered safe when the site you are using is PCI accredited or if they hand off these requirements to a PCI DSS Level 1 payment processor.

Besides offering a convenient and time-saving way to make purchases, online shopping provides customers with an opportunity to support their favourite local stores without putting anyone at risk. It’s up to us as consumers to play our part in fighting the third wave of Covid-19 – this is one of the simplest ways to do so.


By Sarah Evans for News24 

Uber faces a class action suit by customers who say they suffered emotional trauma and physical injuries while using its service. Eleven people represented by Ulrich Roux Attorneys will approach the High Court in an effort to pursue a damages claim from the transportation service as a class action.

The class action comes on the back of criminal and civil suits involving people who were harmed, allegedly while using Uber.

In a criminal case, four men are currently facing trial on a number of charges including rape, attempted rape, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and attempted murder. They allegedly attacked five Uber users between July and August 2016.

According to the charge sheet, the accused’s modus operandi was for one of them to pose as an Uber taxi driver and pretend to be the driver who received the victim’s Uber request. But he was not the driver linked to the victim’s Uber app.

In most of the cases, the other accused would emerge from the boot of the car, through the back seat, and attack the victims, stabbing and raping them in all cases but one, which was an attempted rape. The victims were also robbed of their belongings and made to tell the accused their bank account details.

In the civil case, Roux said that eight people had come forward wanting to claim damages from Uber for incidents that took place while they were using the service.

Safety ‘a top priority’

Roux said that the team of lawyers was drafting an application to have the case certified as a class action, which must be approved by the High Court before it can proceed. He said the team believed that Uber had “vicarious liability” in these incidents, as it advertised the service as safe and reliable to use.

Uber told News24 on Thursday that it could not comment on a case that has not yet begun, however, its thoughts remain with the riders affected by these incidents, it said.

“Our thoughts continue to be with the riders and their families, these incidents are deeply upsetting.

“As soon as these incidents were reported we reached out to local authorities and whatever information we could provide was handed over to the police and it was this close collaboration that led to the arrest of the suspect. In cases of this nature we work closely with police to support their investigations,” Uber explained in a statement on Thursday.

The taxi service also wished to clarify that since these incidents, it had undertaken to improve its verification process and safety features for riders and drivers.

“Safety is a top priority for Uber, and has been since our launch in South Africa. We’re committed to doing the right thing and take on our part of the responsibility to increase safety.

“We constantly invest and innovate to raise the bar on safety,” Uber said.

Make your router hacker-proof

By Sandeep Nair Narayanan, Anupam Joshi and Sudip Mittal for The Conversation 

In late April, the top federal cybersecurity agency, US-CERT, announced that Russian hackers had attacked internet-connected devices throughout the U.S., including network routers in private homes. Most people set them up – or had their internet service provider set them up – and haven’t thought much about them since. But it’s the gateway to the internet for every device on your home network, including Wi-Fi connected ones. That makes it a potential target for anyone who wants to attack you, or, more likely, use your internet connection to attack someone else.

As graduate students and faculty doing research in cybersecurity, we know that hackers can take control of many routers, because manufacturers haven’t set them up securely. Router administrative passwords often are preset at the factory to default values that are widely known, like “admin” or “password.” By scanning the internet for older routers and guessing their passwords with specialized software, hackers can take control of routers and other devices. Then they can install malicious programs or modify the existing software running the device.

Once an attacker takes control
There’s a wide range of damage that a hacker can do once your router has been hijacked. Even though most people browse the web using securely encrypted communications, the directions themselves that let one computer connect to another are often not secure. When you want to connect to, say, theconversation.com, your computer sends a request to a domain name server – a sort of internet traffic director – for instructions on how to connect to that website. That request goes to the router, which either responds directly or passes it to another domain name server outside your home. That request, and the response, are not usually encrypted.

A hacker could take advantage of that and intercept your computer’s request, to track the sites you visit. An attacker could also attempt to alter the reply, redirecting your computer to a fake website designed to steal your login information or even gain access to your financial data, online photos, videos, chats and browsing history.

In addition, a hacker can use your router and other internet devices in your home to send out large amounts of nuisance internet traffic as part of what are called distributed denial of service attacks, like the October 2016 attack that affected major internet sites like Quora, Twitter, Netflix and Visa.

Has your router been hacked?
An expert with complex technical tools may be able to discover whether your router has been hacked, but it’s not something a regular person is likely to be able to figure out. Fortunately, you don’t need to know that to kick out unauthorized users and make your network safe.

The first step is to try to connect to your home router. If you bought the router, check the manual for the web address to enter into your browser and the default login and password information. If your internet provider supplied the router, contact their support department to find out what to do.

If you’re not able to login, then consider resetting your router – though be sure to check with your internet provider to find out any settings you’ll need to configure to reconnect after you reset it. When your reset router restarts, connect to it and set a strong administrative password. The next step US-CERT suggests is to disable older types of internet communications, protocols like telnet, SNMP, TFTP and SMI that are often unencrypted or have other security flaws. Your router’s manual or online instructions should detail how to do that.

After securing your router, it’s important to keep it protected. Hackers are very persistent and are always looking to find more flaws in routers and other systems. Hardware manufacturers know this and regularly issue updates to plug security holes. So you should check regularly and install any updates that come out. Some manufacturers have smartphone apps that can manage their routers, which can make updating easier, or even automate the process.


Those of us who don’t rent bank safety deposit boxes for our valuables probably imagine the set-up to involve fingerprint-accessed vault-like doors and a cobweb of alarmed beams, as in the movies.

It wasn’t quite like that, said one of the victims of the December 18 First National Bank Randburg branch heist in which 360 boxes were stolen.

“Zai” of Randburg, who did not want to be named, happened to be at the bank yesterday when most of the boxes were returned to the branch by what appeared to be a private security company.

Police found the empty boxes dumped near FNB Stadium in Soweto two days after the heist.

All the valuables, including watches, Krugerrands, and jewellery passed down generations were gone. Only documents such as title deeds were left behind.

Zai’s family had rented the box since about 2004, she said, and at the time of the theft were renting it at R120 a month.

“Ironically, it was quite a big deal for us to access our boxes,” said Zai, who last did so in October.

“You had to make an appointment at least 24 hours in advance.

“Someone would meet you and take you into a room, and lock the door behind you. I’d have to produce my ID, then he’d go into another room, a vault, where the boxes were kept, lock that door behind him and then pass my box to me through a slot in the wall. Liberty Locksmith is knowledgeable, technologically advanced and dedicated to serving.

“I never saw any of the other boxes. I opened my box with two keys, in my possession, and then I’d be left alone to do what I needed to do, and then I’d phone to say that I was finished, so they could take the box back into the vault.

“It seemed very safe and professional,” she said.

In early December Zai’s husband asked her to collect their six expensive watches from the box to have them serviced.

“But I was too busy and now they are all gone,” she said.

FNB’s safety deposit contract states the bank will not be legally responsible “under any circumstances for any loss or damage that may occur to the contents” and officials have said they had no way of knowing what was in the stolen boxes and urged clients to insure the contents of the boxes.

By Wendy Knowler for Timeslive

Emily Pratt wasn’t impressed when she heard about the US Food and Drug Administration probe into the potentially deleterious effects of tattoo ink. She would have shrugged to show how little she cared, but she was a bit sore from the tattoo machine that had just been smacking away at her left forearm.

This was her seventh inking, after all: a wrap-around bouquet of six roses in shades of yellow and red rendered at Embassy Tattoos in Washington. “The fact that I’m here,” the 22-year-old says, recovering in the waiting room near a stuffed mongoose, “says I’m not worried about the side effects.”

But the FDA is, as are some experts in the field. The concern has grown with the explosion in the body art’s popularity and the availability of tools and inks online. The industry is growing about 9 percent a year, a rate research company IBISWorld projects will make it a $1.1 billion business by 2020.

“Even the most reputable places can’t guarantee the safety of ink,” says Arisa Ortis, a dermatologist and assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego, and co-author of a 2011 article that cited reports by researchers in Spain, Germany and the US who discovered substances including mercury and charcoal in tattoo dyes.

Industrial-grade colours

In the US, the inks are regulated as cosmetic products. The FDA can screen them before they hit the market but has rarely done so, according to its website, because of “competing public-health priorities and a previous lack of evidence of safety problems specifically associated with these pigments.”

The agency does investigate when it receives complaints, and these have been on the rise: Hundreds have been filed since 2004 compared with just five between 1988 to 2003, reporting reactions including itching or scarring or inflamed skin even years after tattooing occurred.

One issue could be the proliferation of do-it-yourself equipment and inexpensive dyes, says “Sailor” Bill Johnson, vice president of the National Tattoo Association. “I’ve been using the same product for nearly 40 years and have never had a problem with it.”

Scientists at the FDA’s National Centre for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Arkansas, are exploring several aspects of ink’s impact once it’s been under the skin for a while, including how the chemicals metabolise in the body.


“Many pigments used in tattoo inks are industrial-grade colours suitable for printers’ ink or automobile paint,” the agency says on its website. Chemists have discovered some yellows break down when exposed to sunlight or certain enzymes, though it hasn’t been determined whether this is toxic. The FDA hasn’t said when its ink study will be done.

By some estimates, about 30 percent of the US population and one in four millennials sports at least one tattoo, though, according to the Pew Research Centre, the majority have theirs in places that can be hidden from view.

“Tattooing has become mainstream,” says Diane Pacom, a University of Ottawa sociologist. “The millennials, they’re doing it as a statement of belonging to the system — because everybody has tattoos now.”
Including many filled with regret. Tattoo removal is also a growing business, with IBISWorld predicting it will be an $80-million-a-year industry in 2018, up from $40 million in 2008.

Gen Z

Would negative findings by the FDA greatly dim tattooing’s allure? Lars Krutak, a tattoo-history expert at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, doesn’t believe so. After all, millions still smoke despite the risks. But what the FDA discovers, he says, may lead to “better regulation, quality standards, labelling and even the reclassification of tattooing ink itself.”

The tastes of Generation S may determine whether the US has reached peak tattoo. Coming along behind the millennials, this cohort includes kids born from the mid-90s to the mid-2000s. According to researchers, Gen S is more cautious and more driven to be successful after seeing older siblings struggle to find work and live with their parents in record numbers.

Anna Felicity Friedman, a tattoo historian who estimates 50 percent of her body is covered in ink, says no matter what the FDA concludes, the US “may be at a tipping point in tattoo popularity.” Young people she knows “are consciously deciding to remain untattooed, either to be rebellious, since tattoos are no longer a mark of rebellion, or to avoid being deemed a fashion victim.”

Jason Recker, a 15-year-old from Peoria, Illinois, has already done some research. “You don’t see a lot of tattoos on lawyers and engineers and teachers,” he says, considering future careers. “I don’t think I’ll want to get a tattoo when I’m old enough.”

By Bradley Joseph Saacks for www.bloomberg.com

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