Category Archives: News

Events and updates in Business and Information Technology

The next version of Android will be called ‘Marshmallow’

android marshmallow

Google shared some sweet news on Monday: The next version of its mobile operating system will be called Android Marshmallow.

As you may or may not know, nearly every version of Android has been named after a candy or dessert in alphabetical order, starting with the letter “c.” (The first two versions were just called Alpha and Beta.

“Some people think they’re dessert-themed, but it’s really technically tasty treats,” Hiroshi Lockheimer, Android’s vice president of engineering, said in a behind the scenes video.

The Marshmallow announcement is a bit surprising to Android insiders, who widely believed the next version would be called “Macadamia Nut Cookie.” But Google has thrown Android-naming curveballs before. In 2013, two versions of Android ago, Google assigned the name “Kit Kat,” when everyone thought “Key Lime Pie” was a done-deal. In an effort to do something “fun and unexpected,” Google struck a last-minute deal with Nestle.

“A lot of people throw in their ideas — internally as well as externally,” said Lockheimer. A French pastry association even sent Google a treat for naming consideration — a kouglof — for Android K.

Developers got a first look at the new operating system back in May, during Google’s I/O conference. Google gave the final version of Android Marshmallow to developers on Monday, and it will launch to the public in the fall.

Android Marshmallow focuses on subtle improvements to the user experience, including squashing a ton of bugs and overhauling basic features. The biggest addition is Android Pay, Google’s (GOOGL, Tech30) latest take on mobile payments. It’s pretty similar to Apple (AAPL, Tech30) Pay, and a big improvement over Google Wallet, the companies earlier attempt at a mobile wallet.

Other Android M improvements include a new permissions tool that gives users more control over what data they share with apps. There are battery saving features, in Marshmallow, as well as a new tool that lets you open Chrome browser tabs directly inside apps instead of asking users to choose between Chrome and an app.

 

Cybercrimes Act 2015 and need for further amendments

EVEN the older generation are quite aware that the times have changed. We are now in the age of technology. No one can deny this fact. Not even the few who found it difficult to adapt to this change. Denying this fact is tantamount to living in the very past.

Cyber space defines the world in which we live today. Internet transactions are gaining momentum everyday. Consequently, as in the real world, there are a number of deliquents who would use the cyberspace in a rather negative way. This is a universal phenomenon, not limited to Nigeria. No doubt, this has created the need to push for a law to protect genuine internet users.

In other jurisdictions, such laws protecting cyber users have been existing, but for Nigeria, it is just starting. The Act is known as the Nigeria Cybercrimes Act 2015. The new Cybercrimes Act, signed into law on May 15, 2015 stipulates that, any crime or injury on critical national information infrastructure, sales of pre-registered SIM cards, unlawful access to computer systems, Cyber-Terrorism, among others, would be punishable under the new law.

In fact it made some elaborate provisions in its quest to protect Nigerians from unscrupulous elements. But stakeholders at a forum last weekend in Lagos explained that it overreached itself by delving into items that ordinarily are not supposed to be in it, in addition to other inherent fundamental flaws.

The event, organised by Technology Times Outlook, reviewed  the Act; revealing the pros and cons of the new law; what it portends for the fight against cybercrime, as well as the possibilities for Cybersecurity in Nigeria.

Keynote speaker, Mr Basil Udotai, the managing partner, Technology Advisor and the pioneer Director and Head of the Directorate for Cybersecurity (DfC) at the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) while praising the enactment of the law, criticised certain provisions of the law.

His words: “For a while people were really worried that digital economy had carried on with the absence of legal framework for cybercrime/cybersecurity; a glaring gap in law enforcement. The law has wiped out the tears of Nigerians. It is the first statutory instrument in the country that criminalises online actions, prescribing punishment and creating legal proceedures for investigation, protection and enforcement. For the first time in Nigeria, anybody that damages critical infrastructure will be liable because the law mandated the creation of national forensic laboratory. The Attorney General(AG) now has the mandate to issue regulatory statements over cybercrime and cybersecurity. The law also created an advisory council.”

He however pointed out that there are lots of loopholes in the law. According to him, the challenges manifests in the area of enforcement, compliance, cybercrime investigation, the cybersecurity funds, the conflict arising from the National Security Agencies Act which cannot be amended except by the constitution and others.

On the area of enforcement, he said section 7 mandates every cybercafe operator to register with the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), which he said was not necessary, adding that it also failed to provide for a single enforcement institution.

He noted that the enforcement framework will provide a choatic compliance.  “Is there a conspiracy to ensure Nigeria doesn’t enforce cybercrime? You may feel that way if you look at the enforcement framework designed for this Law. But I think it was an error, which should be corrected: Decentralized and Distributed Enforcement Framework: NSA to coordinate enforcement by all LEA and Security Agencies (“relevant law enforcement agencies”); Cybercrime investigation, prosecution and enforcement – separated?”, he queried. According to him, traditional approach in our Criminal Justice System usually based on confered authority has now been departed from.  “It is an unprecedented departure from the norm, and very unlikely to work”, he said.

The Cybercrime Act is made up of 59 Sections, 8 Parts; and 2 Schedules. 1st Schedule lists the Cybercrime Advisory Council; 2nd Schedule lists businesses to be levied for the purpose of the Cybersecurity Fund under S.44(2)(a) GSM service providers and all telecom companies; Internet service providers; Banks and other financial institutions; Insurance companies; and Nigerian Stock Exchange.

“Ideally, the principles around Cybercrime legislations require that the law focuses on computer-related offences; Content-related offences; Computer integrity offences; Jurisdiction and Procedural issues: International harmonization/relations. But a review of the law indicates that in addition to meeting the foregoing milestones commendably, the drafters made strenuous efforts in seeking to bank transactions: the danger of a single story”, he stated.

Udotai added that the Act is in conflict with the constitution in respect of the provisions of the National Security Agencies Act (NSA). He explained that the Constitution made (a) the National Youth Service Corps Decree 1993; (b) the Public Complaints Commission Act;(c) the National Security Agencies Act and (d) the Land Use Act enactments that cannot be invalidated except in accordance with the provisions of section 9 (2) of the Constitution.

He also said a levy of 0.005 of all electronic transactions by the businesses specified in the second schedule to this Act in Section 44 may not deliver. ‘’With a trillion or so worth of transactions, someone put the number that is likely to result to the fund at N600m”, he noted.

In conclusion, Udotai  said: “The Cybercrime Act though long in coming and beset with certain challenging components, may be applied to effective tackle Nigeria’s cybercrime and cybersecurity challenges. But deliberate efforts have to be made by the key players; Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (OAGF) working with stakeholders to make this a reality.”

Earlier, the founder/group Chief Executive Officer of Technology Times, Shina Badaru in his welcome address stated that cyberspace is now connected to the new world in which we live. “If you are not using mobile phone, you are probably using the Bank ATM. As we live and work within the domains and networks, the users must have the comfort that there is a legislation that protects them while they work and play”, he said.

In his contribution, the group Chief Executive Officer of Proshare Nigeria, Mr Femi Awoyemi said though the Act is not perfect, it is praiseworthy. According to him, no Act of legislation would ever be perfect. He explained that the Act is not an act to catch criminals, but an act that defines the way we live and act as a people.

Other members of the panel who made outstanding contributions to the topic include the immediate past chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos branch, Mr Alex Muoka; President, Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON), Ms Sola Salako; Head, Legal Services and Board Matters Unit, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Emmanuel Edet as well as the Chief Corporate Services Officer, Smile Communications Nigeria Limited, Mr. Tobe Okigbo.

However, the final verdict from participants is that the Act requires urgent amendment to make it more effective in achieving the desired goal even though there are those who harped on the need to concentrate on the act of preventing cybercrime than prescribing  punishment for offenders.

Microsoft Windows 95 Turns 20: A Look Back

On Aug. 24, 1995, Windows 95 was released amid global fanfare, marking a significant milestone in the history of Microsoft.

Windows At 30: Microsoft's OS Keeps Evolving

Windows At 30:
Microsoft’s OS Keeps Evolving
Twenty years ago today eager customers lined up to get their hands on Microsoft’s Windows 95 operating system. It was a notable day in software history and for a young company still in the early stages of becoming a tech giant.

Microsoft celebrated the launch with a tremendous publicity campaign, complete with celebrity appearances and TV commercials, intended to spark global enthusiasm for Windows.

The fanfare was fitting for an operating system that marked a pivotal change in how people interacted with their computers. Windows 95 packed a range of new features that put it ahead of predecessors Windows 3.0 and Windows 3.1.

The system’s most iconic additions were the Start button, menu, and taskbar that became core components for future Windows PCs. When Microsoft overhauled its user interface and eliminated the Start menu in Windows 8, the user backlash was great enough to inspire its reinstallation in Windows 10.

Windows 95 was designed for simple navigation, which was welcome at a time when more everyday consumers were beginning to invest in home computers. A new user interface made it easier to access folders, files, and applications via shortcuts on the desktop screen. Users were no longer constrained by a file name limit; they could now make file names as long as they wanted.

The upgrade boosted Windows from a 16-bit to 32-bit OS. Windows 95 also delivered built-in Internet support, dial-up networking, more powerful networking and mobile computing features, and Plug and Play capabilities to enable hardware and software installation.

 

(Image: Microsoft)

(Image: Microsoft)

At the time Windows 95 was released, 80% of PCs around the world were running earlier versions of Windows and MS-DOS operating systems. These users provided a massive upgrade base for Microsoft, which sold more than seven million copies of Windows 95 in the first five weeks of its launch.

Microsoft and the technology industry have both evolved greatly since 1995. Almost one month ago Redmond celebrated the launch of Windows 10, the newest addition to its OS lineup.

This time, there were no lines of Windows customers waiting to purchase an upgrade. Windows 10 is a free upgrade from Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 available for download via Windows Update. Microsoft’s marketing strategy for Windows 10 was both notable and festive, but still pales in comparison to the investment made in publicizing Windows 95.

Twenty years after the launch of Windows 95, Microsoft is under new leadership and has embraced a new corporate vision. Windows 10 was designed with cloud and mobile in mind, an effort to tie together the many types of devices in the Windows ecosystem.

How to keep your details safe on the internet

There are no equivalents to highway codes, nutritional guidelines and movie-style ratings systems to help people make safe choices on the internet.

Many consumers feel hopeless and helpless, as retailers, healthcare providers and governments lose millions of records and hackers steal their identities to make fraudulent transactions. Senior business people may be among the most at risk because of their wealth or because they may have access to commercially sensitive material.

Current forms of cyber security protection, particularly for individuals, are not keeping up with wily hackers, who are able to change tactics quickly.

Jay Kaplan, chief executive of Synack, a security start-up, says people should prioritise monitoring how their information is being used, because they have to assume it has been stolen by someone.

“It is inevitable,” he says. “Everyone needs to take a stance that eventually their information will be compromised unless they live under a rock and never share electronically. Even then, it is impossible, given they do things such as file tax returns.”

Regularly checking your personal credit rating is the best way to keep track of financial fraud, but it is harder to monitor how hackers are using healthcare data or how identification such as social security numbers in the US or national insurance numbers in the UK, that are used to access myriad sensitive accounts, may be being misused.

Mr Kaplan says companies’ and government agencies’ dependence on this form of identification and other easily discoverable identifiers such as names, addresses and dates of birth, is archaic and no longer secure.

He recommends companies come up with a more secure authentication system and that consumers use two-factor authentication, where a password is used in conjunction with another randomly created code, often sent by SMS or generated by an app.

Vince Steckler, chief executive of Avast, an antivirus software maker for consumers, says people become scared when they see thefts of individuals’ data from companies such as Target and Home Depot, the US retailers. But he adds they really need to worry about how much data they share voluntarily online.

“Users probably give far more private information about themselves through their normal use of the internet — Facebook, WhatsApp, just about any kind of app on a phone or computer,” he says. “They give up a massive amount of personal information. The biggest threat to people’s privacy is just the legitimate stuff they are using.”

Hackers often use publicly available data about people that is on the internet to “socially engineer” contacts, pretending to be someone users know or trust in order to get them to download an attachment or click on an infected link. Or they can use online information on friends and family members to answer the questions that might be used to access password codes.

Tony Anscombe, head of free products at AVG, a security software maker, says consumers need to think about forgoing some convenience in return for better security. When shopping online, he recommends people use the option to check out as a guest to restrict the number of ecommerce sites that store their details.

“One of the first things I suggest to anyone is you can type in your credit card details each time you make a purchase. It is only a 16 digit number, it is not too complicated,” he says.

He adds that consumers should use different email addresses for different purposes, such as shopping and banking, so hackers cannot match an email stolen from an ecommerce website to one from a bank. Emails from more than one address can be directed to the same device, so this should not be too inconvenient, he says.

Other basic steps that Mr Anscombe recommends include checking your social media settings to make sure you know what you are sharing, turning off facial recognition so that you do not get tagged in photos without your permission and using different and complex passwords for each account.

“Every time you write something down that is personal, think: Who is storing it, where is it being stored and why am I sending it to them?” he says.

“On a public profile, people have where they are born, what university they went to, who their family members are, what city they live in. All that information can be used to get more private pieces of information such as social security numbers, addresses and phone numbers,” Mr Steckler says.

People should be aware of what information is available about them online and be suspicious when they receive emails from unknown senders. When clicking through to another site from an email, do not enter personal details as it could be a fake domain. Instead, search for the site on an independent search engine and log in from there.

Senior managers and executives in organisations may be even more at risk, cyber security experts warn, as hackers will presume they have good credit ratings or perhaps access to confidential work files while working remotely.

Taming “Big Data” transaction complexity

Electronic transactions are the largest, fastest growing subset of “Big Data” within financial environments.  Although the complexity and volume of this data may seem overwhelming, many channel managers, marketers and operations teams realise that – when harnessed and leveraged correctly – transaction data also represents a predictive, “always on” feed into how the organisation is performing, how services are being delivered and how happy banking customers really are.

According to Bob Meara, Senior Analyst at Celent:

“62% of financial institutions in a recent Celent survey strongly believe that customer analytics offers significant competitive advantages and 53% strongly feel they need a granular, holistic and forward-looking view of customers to be competitive.  One key to understanding customers and improving banking channel efficiencies lies in making rich transaction data accessible for actionable customer analytics.”

DIAGRAM:  Who Uses Transaction Data

The challenges of transaction data mining

But mining transaction data can be a costly and time consuming task. In recent years, the ability to collect, correlate and extract “actionable” transaction data has become more challenging for reasons such as:

  • The massive, growing volumes and diversity of electronic banking and payments transactions
  • The omni-channel convergence of ATM, POS, Branch, Mobile and Internet Banking channels
  • The increasing disparities between how banking technology platforms work, including virtual, cloud-based, mobile and Agile applications
  • The growing number of ways in which transactions get processed through banking services, fraud applications and payment networks
  • The merger activity and globalization focus of many financial organizations

The good news is that fresh thinking and new approaches have made it a whole lot easier to overcome these challenges.  Recent technology advancements in real-time transaction data collection, storage and vertically focused visualization applications will help position your organization to win.

Introducing new ways of collecting and storing transaction “Big Data”

For today’s channel managers, marketers and operations teams to meet customer service expectations, they must be able to discover performance issues and respond to changing customer behaviors extremely quickly.

This is why it has become increasingly important to collect and store transaction data in a centralised location, across all your moving network parts and channels. Centralised data collection means that you don’t have to go searching for it when you need it the most.

When you use transaction data for customer analytics, this data will ideally be captured across an entire “end-to-end” transaction path.  Why, you may ask?  It’s because your customer analytics will only be as complete as your data.

Each structured individual customer transaction record will contain a wealth of information, including:

  • Terminal ID and geographic location information
  • Transaction approval and event completion status
  • Transaction types and dollar amounts
  • Card types and host authorization responses
  • Response timing and failure information for each “moving part” on the transaction path

Traditionally, channel business managers and marketers have lacked on-demand transaction data access, and have relied on their operations team to spend many expensive, time consuming hours piecing together fragmented data collected from multiple sources – many of which are unreliable. These data collection and storage issues surrounding transaction data have also impacted the ability of retail banks to produce dynamic dashboards and customer analytics reports without long lead times.

Thankfully, the days of deep dependency on IT for customer intelligence are now over. Many of today’s retail banks now depend on software to do their heavy data lifting – not their operations team.

Today, there are real-time transaction monitoring solutions available, that are built to handle high-volume electronic transaction environments.  They easily monitor any and all types of electronic customer interactions happening within complex multi-channel retail banking networks. Protocol and platform agnostic, these software platforms capture and correlate real-time consumer transaction data in a secure, light-weight fashion, enabling financial institutions to overcome past data mining limitations and avoid high cost deployments, manual data collection and time consuming correlation tasks.

Warehousing this data within an environment such as a Hadoop data store means that you will have the ability to easily scale to a cluster without costly, additional licensing required.  This data, along with any complimentary third party data you wish to store, can be extracted from Hadoop using a friendly, self-serve analytics interface such as Tableau, or simple SQL queries – no extra code writing required.

Using transaction Big Data to drive customer banking engagement

Now that you have the centralized collection and storage of your transaction data figured out, it is important to think about how you want to use that data. To address specific customer use cases or quickly execute data-driven actions, the front end customer analytics solution being used for data visualization should meet the following vertically-focused criteria:

Contains multiple preconfigured dashboards designed to expedite the analysis of customer engagement patterns and conduct predictive analytics
Can embed transaction data and other feeds for specific use cases
Contains reports that can be run on-demand and easily understood by line of business managers and marketers

There are more and more examples of Big Data and analytics vendors tailoring their offerings to specific verticals, offering self-serve solutions that meet highly specific reporting and dashboard needs around channels such as ATM, POS, Mobile, Branch or Internet banking.  This means the days of deep dependency on IT for the creation of intense analytics querying, reports and dashboards are also over.

Self-serve, analytics software is an easy way to see your wealth of customer transaction data – ready to be analysed any time you need it. With on-demand access to rich records of every consumer transaction, channel business managers, marketers and operations teams can apply their rich domain expertise and predictive modelling to understand customer behaviors throughout any banking channel, such as:

  • Who uses which ATMs or POS terminals?
  • What kind of interactions are customers having at my Internet Banking or Mobile Banking application, and when?
  • What quality of service are customers experiencing?
  • How profitable is this customer or group of customers?
  • How did that latest outage affect channel profitability?

You can also ingest complimentary third party data sources such as BIN lists, ATM configuration data, competitor location information and customer demographics for more enriched data visualization and decision making.

Taming “Big Data” transaction complexity

Whether you are interested in making better ATM or POS placement decisions, improving cash inventory and replenishment schedules, simplifying reporting or running ad hoc queries on outage impacts, transaction data is your goldmine.

The key to extracting actionable customer analytics from transaction “Big Data” is exploring new ways to manage and correlate high volumes of diverse transaction data so problem identification and customer engagement analysis becomes simpler, faster, and more accurate.

New technology advancements in real-time transaction data collection, storage and vertically focused visualization applications are designed to be activity centric: providing relevant, timely, and actionable information that is well suited to the event-driven nature of today’s omni-channel banking environments.

Up to £6bn in revenue left on the table by mobile businesses last year due to poor user experience

Jumio survey reveals top concerns driving mobile abandonment; a quarter of attempts to purchase a financial product are abandoned     

Jumio Inc. today released results from the company’s latest Mobile Consumer Insights study, a look at user behaviour and transactions on mobile, and a follow-up to its 2013 study of the same name. Conducted online by Harris Interactive, the study identifies the driving forces of purchase and account opening abandonment as well as security concerns around transacting on mobile devices. These factors continue to be a major issue among mobile device users, despite consumers’ increased reliance on mobile and the growing awareness of hindrances to mobile sign-ups and checkout. The 2015 Jumio Mobile Consumer Insights Study found that more than one-half of UK smartphone owners (55%) have abandoned a mobile transaction. A survey carried out by Jumio in 2013 showed a global abandonment figure of 66%. Customer concerns about usability made up the top three reasons for abandonment: slow loading times (32%), payment process being too complicated (27%) and difficulty with navigating the checkout process (26%).  Customer uncertainty about the purchase only accounted for 21% of all abandonments

According to the Office of National Statistics mobile commerce revenues reached £15 billion in 2014. In addition to the majority of the survey recipients abandoning transactions, the study also found that nearly a quarter of consumers abandon their attempts at opening an online gaming (24%) or financial services (25%) account and around one-third (32%) of those who abandon a transaction do not attempt again.

“As mobile transactions continue to skyrocket, so do abandoned purchases, incomplete account openings, and lost revenue,” said Marc Barach, Chief Marketing Officer, Jumio. “Businesses have heeded the warning and are finally prioritising mobile checkout experiences, underscored by the ten percent improvement in abandonment rates over the last two years,” said Barach, “But, experiences are still far from being as seamless as they need to be in order for retailers to stem the tide of lost opportunity and put a potential £6 billion back in their pockets.”

Further findings from the 2015 Jumio Mobile Consumer Insights Study include:

Retail Remorse

Fashion is the most frequently abandoned with 53% of respondents abandoning purchases. These rates vary by gender and age, with women (62%) more likely to abandon a clothing or apparel transaction than men (44%).

Surprisingly, the second worst industry for abandonment is food and drink. Despite the popularity of online grocery shopping and ordering take-away food on mobile apps in the UK, 39% of all attempted mobile food and drink purchases are abandoned.

Abandonment rates by industry:

  • Fashion – 53%
  • Food (groceries or takeaway) – 39%
  • Travel – 38%
  • Entertainment – 35%
  • Household goods – 35%
  • Events tickets (concerts or sporting events) – 30%
  • Electronics – 30%
  • Financial Services application (opening an account, transferring money) – 25%
  • Online Gaming (opening an account) – 24%

“While consumers were less likely to say they’d abandoned a transaction that involved opening an account, as compared to making a purchase, this may be in part because these transactions typically require some degree of forethought and commitment, particularly in financial services,” continued Barach. “These businesses still need to keep factors such as ease of use and security top of mind to maximize the number of users who complete their transaction moving forward.”

Usability is key

Usability issues (68%) far outweigh purchase uncertainty (21%) when it comes to shoppers abandoning a mobile transaction. Frustrations over slow load times (32%) and complex payment processes (27%) are more important than concerns over payment security (16%) when shoppers decide to give up a transaction.

Usability:

  • One-third (32%) reported apps/mobile sites being slow to load
  • Payment process was too complicated (27%)
  • App/site was difficult to navigate (26%)
  •   Difficult to type information in on small screen (21%)

Platform:

  • 16% reported concerns around security of payment info
  • 12% reported concerns around security of personal info

Bargains don’t mean a sale

It’s not enough for a retailer just to have the best prices, getting the purchasing environment right has to be a priority.

The lower the cost of a transaction, the more likely it is that that transaction will be abandoned. So retailers who are promoting low cost items are at the most risk from losing sales.

  • £1 – £49 – 39%
  • £50 – £99 30%
  • £100 or more – 12%

Dependence on Desktops

Two thirds (68%) of those who have abandoned a mobile transaction went back and attempted that transaction again later, with the computer being the preferred method the second time around.

  • 27% say they made their next attempt from a computer
  • 22% tried on their smartphone
  • 17% tried on their tablet

Men (73%) are far more likely than women (63%) to attempt a transaction again.

The 2015 Jumio Mobile Consumer Insights Study was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Jumio, Inc. from June 19-23, 2015, among 1013 UK online adults ages 18+

Google Android One Lands In Africa

Google broadens its low-cost Android One service with the African rollout of its Infinix HOT 2 smartphone.

Google is taking Android One, its affordable smartphone program, to a new level with a rollout across select African countries.

Android One will arrive in Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Egypt, and Morocco with the launch of the Infinix HOT 2. The service will first be available in Nigerian retail outlets and appear in other countries over the next few weeks.

There are more than 50 million Nigerian people online, wrote Google product management Vice President Caesar Sengupta in a blog post published Aug. 18. Almost all of them (95%) surf the Internet on a mobile device.

“However, simply having an Internet connection isn’t enough,” Sengupta explained. “It’s important that people getting started with the Internet have a great, reliable, and relevant experience right away. This can be a challenge in places where local content may be limited, connectivity slow or intermittent, and quality phones costly.”

Google is hoping to address this challenge with the Infinix HOT 2, which is the first Android One device built in collaboration with African smartphone manufacturer Infinix.

The HOT 2 will run Android 5.1 Lollipop at first, but Google promises an upgrade to Android Marshmallow when the new OS launches. It packs a quad-core MediaTek processor with 1GB RAM memory, dual-SIM support, and 16GB of storage.

Customers can choose from a color selection of red, black, white, blue and gold, which has 2GB RAM memory. Retail price will start at N17,500 (about $88).

 

 

(Image: Google)

(Image: Google)

Google is also extending YouTube offline throughout Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and Egypt over the next few months. This is a capability within the YouTube app which lets users store videos for up to 48 hours so they can be viewed at times when connection is slow or absent.

For those who already own smartphones, Google is streamlining its search service for global devices in an effort to speed up the experience on devices with low RAM (512MB). This will reportedly decrease loading time by one-third and cut data use on the results page by up to 90%.

Google first announced Android One at its I/O conference in June 2014 with the goal of broadening Android’s global presence. The program, along with YouTube Offline, first started in India.

Financial Sector needs to tackle Cyber Resilience urges Auriga

Security consultancy identifies top five points of failure in recovering from an attack

Auriga Consulting Ltd (Auriga), the expert data, ICT and security consultancy, today warned that an over emphasis on defence is leaving the financial sector exposed to cyber attack. An increase in threat levels has seen the sector bolster defences by focusing on detection and attack response but recovery remains a fragmented process with little investment in Cyber Resilience. Cyber Resilience uses threat intelligence and existing internal resource to enable the organisation to cope with the inevitable: a successful attack. Auriga has identified five key points of failure that are preventing organisations from implementing an effective Cyber Resilience strategy. Top issues include board level engagement, the sharing of information, interdepartmental communication, roles and responsibilities and the testing of incident response all of which are key to aiding recovery.

Statistics suggest the likelihood of a breach is increasing. The number of attacks being carried out against the financial sector are said to number 3:1 compared to other industries, and 585 breaches were investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) last year. Cyber attack simulations and the pooling of threat intelligence have improved the security stance of many financial organisations but few have demonstrated effective Cyber Resilience which would enable the business to recover and resume normal business operations in the event of a breach.

Auriga’s warning echoes those expressed by The Bank of England in the recent Financial Stability Report (FSR) issued 1 July 2015 which identified the need for financial organisations to adopt a state of readiness to facilitate rapid recovery. The Financial Policy Committee has revised its recommendations in line with the FSR calling for regulators to conduct “a regular assessment of the resilience to cyber attacks of firms at the core of the financial system” with a report on the outcome of these assessments due to be published in summer 2016.

Financial sector organisations stand to benefit by addressing the issue of Cyber Resilience today by reviewing current practise. Auriga has identified the following five potential points of failure that hamper recovery efforts:

Five Points of Failure

1. Restricting information – Information is the lifeblood of effective threat intelligence. But while many organisations will have threat intelligence channels, with some even having dedicated threat intelligence teams, the way in which information is handled across the business is seldom examined. Information has to be defused if it is to be effective therefore processes need to be in place to ensure information flows via threat handling agents and out into the arteries of the business.

2. Static roles – Management of cyber response often falls under the remit of the CRO or CISO but many become confused over their role in the event of a breach. Should they enforce policy? Do they refer or take action? How should they cooperate with other departments? Allocate roles and responsibilities but also detail how these may change in different scenarios.

3. Outsourcing because of ignorance – A recent consultancy survey found only 41 percent of the 450 senior risk management respondents surveyed felt they had the skills needed to understand the impact of multiple digital technologies. Consequently, they sought external assistance from fraud experts and even hackers. Supplementing inhouse knowledge by importing expertise is advisable but be wary of who you approach and be clear on your objectives.

4. Shopping for scenarios – Avoid off-the-shelf scenario planning or ‘playbooks’. A playbook provides a plan on how the organisation will respond to and handle a given situation. Typically there will be a different playbook or contingency plan for each different attack scenario. These should be developed inhouse and specific to the company, its individual line of business and corporate structure, and aligned with the security policy.

5. Untested Incident Response – Most organisations will have an Incident Response (IR) plan but surprisingly few are put to the test. Stress bust testing can reveal bottlenecks created by communication issues and lengthy response times. Consider also have far the IR goes. Does it go beyond the IT team and involve the legal and corporate communications teams, for instance? How will recovery be aided both internally and externally by these teams?

“The financial sector is being subjected to an unprecedented number of attacks, across numerous vectors, motivated by a variety of intentions. Fending off every attack is simply not possible and yet the emphasis is continually placed solely on investing in more generic security protection based solutions; more emphasis needs to be placed on detection and response. There is a big difference between implementing good security countermeasures and implementing the right security countermeasures. Cyber attacks affecting your industry and organisation must inform your Cyber Defences” said James Henry, UK Southern Region Manager, Auriga. “The BoE has focused the spotlight on the need to facilitate rapid recovery and every financial organisation can increase its security stance exponentially by improving Cyber Resilience. It is possible to improve cyber ‘readiness’ with clear guidance on the roles and responsibilities of relevant departments. Financial organisations need to put in place these processes and procedures to cope with the inevitability of a successful attack, ensure prompt detection and to aid swift recovery.”

Nigeria: latest data certification puts MainOne in poll position

Funke Opeke, CEO of Nigerian telecom services and network solutions provider MainOne, has announced that the company’s Tier III data centre is the West African country’s first to be PCI DSS, ISO 27001 certified.

MainOne’s Tier III Data Center, MDX-I, has received Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and ISO 27001:2013 certifications.

In a statement the company said the certifications ensure the data centre’s compliance to globally accepted standards on customer data security, as well as commitment towards the security and protection of the company’s information assets.

“While the PCI DSS accreditation is the most comprehensive, internationally recognised data security standard focused on promoting payment card data security, the ISO 27001 standard is a globally recognised Information Security Management System (ISMS) standard which specifies the requirements for a business to establish, implement, review, monitor, manage and maintain effective information security management systems,” the company explained

MainOne’s data centre was certified following a comprehensive ISO27001 audit carried out by business standards company the British Standard Institution (BSI) group.

The PCI DSS assessment was conducted by Digital Jewels Limited, a PCIDSS QSA and an Information Value Chain Company which also provided end-to-end support in preparing the Data Centre for certification to both standards.

The audits measured the facilities at the Data Center according to several strict criteria including physical access controls as well as information security policies, procedures and infrastructure.

Opeke said the certifications consolidates the company’s investment in critical infrastructure and processes to grow West Africa’s Digital Economy. “We have continued to see an increase in the number of payment card operators, and many of these are our customers. Our ability to ensure security of their customer data is attested to by these certifications and ensures we provide an equivalent level of security as the best in-house bank data centres”, she said.

Google to Reorganize Into New Company Called ‘Alphabet’

Say goodbye to Google. Say hello to Alphabet.

Google Inc. says it is creating a new operating structure under a newly formed umbrella company it is calling Alphabet Inc. Co-founder and current CEO Larry Page will lead the new company, while Sergey Brin, the other co-founder, will serve as president.

Google itself will be an operating unit and get a new CEO: Sundar Pichai, who had been running Android and Chrome.

It’s not just a name change, but a reorganization of the company. In a blog post announcing the change, Page said they wanted a “slimmed down” version of Google, with other businesses, such as Life Sciences and the Calico biotech unit to be their own operating companies. Each unit, Page suggested, would get its own CEO.

Page sought to position the move as a further move toward the technology-driven disruption and innovation he, Brin and Google have all long espoused. “We did a lot of things that seemed crazy at the time,” Page wrote. “Many of those crazy things now have over a billion users, like Google Maps, YouTube, Chrome, and Android. And we haven’t stopped there. We are still trying to do things other people think are crazy but we are super excited about.”

Yet, the move positions Google as far more traditional than disruptive. Many companies have found that a conglomerate model — which is essential what Alphabet will be — helps manage the overall company better by putting key executives in charge of the underlying companies, leaving the top management to focus on making the company work as a whole.

Indeed, Page, in his blog post, said as much. “In general, our model is to have a strong CEO who runs each business, with Sergey and me in service to them as needed,” he wrote. “We will rigorously handle capital allocation and work to make sure each business is executing well.”

That also gives shareholders an advantage. Now, Alphabet can more easily spin off these units into their own public companies, with existing holders getting some shares. Indeed, the history of business shows that periods of consolidation with large conglomerates is generally followed by times when companies split off some of their holdings.

While the structure of Alphabet isn’t unusual, the timeline to create such a massive conglomerate is nothing short of breathtaking. Google is a company not yet old enough to buy beer, founded officially in 1997. Two years later, it opened its first official office, with just eight employees.

Then, growth exploded and within five years, the company went public. At the time, it even disrupted that process, holding an auction-style initial public offering so more retail investors could buy shares.

The company, just before the Alphabet announcement, is now valued by the market at $444 billion.

Alphabet Inc. will replace Google Inc. as the publicly-traded entity, the company said. All shares of Google will automatically convert into the same number of shares of Alphabet.

And, why the name Alphabet? “We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search,” Page wrote. “We also like that it means alpha-bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for!”