Category archives for: Technology

Nigeria: Fake Anti-Virus Raises Nigeria’s Volatility to Cyber-Attacks

By Adeyemi Adepetun, Femi Adekoya and Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze

Lagos and Abuja — Although the WannaCry ransomware that has been wreaking havoc has been stopped, there are indications that those who initiated the attack at the weekend could go on to alter the code and restart it all over again.

The list of African countries affected by the WannaCry ransomware includes, but is not limited to, South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria and many more.

This poses a risk to Nigeria’s cyber space, which is predominantly characterised by a huge volume of fake, counterfeited and unlicensed software as well as illegal downloads.

Although the 2016 data of unlicensed software usage in Nigeria has not been released by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), however, it claimed that as at 2015, 80 per cent of software used in the country are unlicensed. It put the value at $232 million.

Besides, The Guardian learnt through industry sources that there has been a major increase of about 55 per cent sales and purchase of various inferior anti-virus software in the last six months in Nigeria.

In addition, the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has also alerted Nigerians to the attack, warning especially Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) and other stakeholders to be wary.

NITDA’s Director-General, Dr. Isa Ali Pantanmi, in a statement explained that WannaCrypt spreads by itself between computers and does not require human interaction, stressing that it restricts access to the affected system as well as demanding for the payment of ransom.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) urged Nigerians to obtain software patch released by Microsoft in March 2017 to fix the Ransomware Virus; plan scheduled penetration tests on the networks and systems to ensure protection and availability at all times.

NCC urged subscribers who use their smartphones as substitutes to computers for Internet access to protect themselves and their devices by not opening e-mail attachments/links from unknown sources; not clicking pop-ups and applets on unknown websites and installing effective antivirus software for their mobile devices.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Communication Technology, Adebayo Shittu has stressed the need for the country to build a resilient cyber defence to check cyber crime.

Speaking at the cyber security summit organised by the Cyber Security Experts Association of Nigeria yesterday in Abuja, the minister noted that Nigeria loses over N127 billion to cyber crime, adding that the financial implication could be more as large number of incidents remain undetected or unreported.

He urged the participants to come up with strategies that will build better and safer cyber space for all.

South Africa: Minister Naledi Pandor – Media Briefing Ahead of Science and Technology Budget Vote 2017-18

press release

Media Statement by the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, ahead of the Science and Technology Budget Vote debate in Parliament on Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Members of the media

The theme

Our theme for this year’s budget vote is “The Oliver Tambo legacy – positioning the national system of innovation for the future”. Government announced the celebration of O.R Tambo this year, as it would have been his centenary had he lived.

OR Tambo wasn’t just a luminary of our struggle for freedom; he was also an outstanding mathematics and science teacher. As part of honouring OR Tambo, we will, soon, be hosting a round-table discussion on Mathematics and Education, in the East Rand of Johannesburg.

Strategic overview

There is growing appreciation of the contribution of science, technology and innovation (STI) to socio-economic transformation and the achievement of government imperatives.

STI is acknowledged as an important contributor in government’s Operation Phakisa and other initiatives. Further STI is recognised as a cross-cutter in government’s Nine-Point Plan.

At a policy level, the importance of STI is highlighted in South Africa’s National Development Plan (Vision 2030). The National Development Plan (NDP), notes that developments in STI fundamentally alter the way people live, communicate and transact, with profound effects on economic growth and development.

Science, technology and innovation are key to equitable economic growth, underpinning economic advances and improvements in health systems, education and infrastructure.

The NDP argues that countries that are able to tackle poverty effectively by growing their economies are characterised by strong capabilities in STI, and acknowledges the role that STI can play in addressing the interlinked challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Internationally, science, technology and related innovations are recognised as future sources of economic growth, with the potential to create new types of jobs, and provide new solutions to problems trapping people in poverty, such as poor health and water shortages.

The department has therefore sharpened its focus on the ways in which its work and the work of the broader national system of innovation can contribute to addressing South Africa’s most pressing challenges.

The DST adds value to the efforts of the rest of government and industry to implement the NDP by providing cutting-edge science and technology to enable effective decision-making.

The department’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan identified the need to provide decision support to improve government services or functions, and an audit undertaken in 2016/17 identified at least 19 services or functions where the investments of the DST and its entities are providing decision support.

The 2017/18 financial year is the third year of implementation of the DST’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan. The plan is dominated by several specific strategic interventions intended to increase the capacity of the national system of innovation and its contribution to South Africa’s economic growth.

With the 2017/18 budget at R7,5 billion, the department will maintain a clear focus on human capital development and the continuous modernisation of research infrastructure. Already these efforts have resulted in enhanced knowledge production, growth and the transformation of the pool of knowledge workers, as well as the exploitation of knowledge for development.

This work relates directly to the Medium Term Strategic Framework’s Outcome 5 (A skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path).

A considerable degree of the work and research that the DST undertakes supports the Medium Term Strategic Framework’s Outcome 2 (A long and healthy life for all South Africans) as well as Outcome 4 (Decent employment through inclusive growth).

The department also contributes directly to Outcome 6 (An efficient, competitive, and responsive economic infrastructure network) through its investments in research and development, promoting innovation, and building the country’s knowledge economy to improve productivity, health systems, education and infrastructure.

This will include research infrastructure grants to researchers and institutions across the innovation value chain (e.g. for pilot plants, technology demonstrators and specialised facilities); the establishment of new technology service platforms, such as a bioinformatics service platform to service the life science sector; and agro-innovation hubs to connect researchers and rural communities.

Sustainable growth in South Africa will require a transformed and fully utilised human capital base. To this end the department will ensure that at least 80% of postgraduate students receiving support through the National Research Foundation (NRF) bursary programme are black, 55% are women and 4% are people with disabilities.

Guidelines are in place to achieve this through the bursary and research support programmes, and the efficacy of these guidelines will be monitored and evaluated annually to ensure the realisation of these goals.

Some key priorities in 2017/18

The Research Development and Support Programme will transfer R 693 million to the NRF to ensure the completion of the MeerKat, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) demonstrator project.

The SKA will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. Key economic benefits from this investment will be the leveraging of foreign direct investment from the SKA Organisation for constructions costs of phase 1 of SKA.

The National Development Plan acknowledges that economic growth is a long-term project and that the role played by innovation should see an incremental increase. The department will focus on South African innovation for energy security, poverty alleviation and health care funded through the Technology Innovation Programme, which has been allocated R1.1 billion.

In line with the Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research and Development Act, 2008, the department will ensure greater economic and social returns from intellectual property generated from innovation activities using public funds.

The department will transfer R 36 million to the National Intellectual Property Management Office, to ensure that publicly funded intellectual property is used to create products, processes and services that contribute to quality of life in South Africa.

The department aims to position bio-innovation as a mechanism for achieving government’s industrial and social development goals, guided by the department’s 2013 Bio-economy Strategy. Under the Technology Innovation Programme, R156 million, is allocated for bio-innovation in the health, agricultural and industrial biotechnology sectors.

The budget

The DST’s total budget for the 2017/18 financial year is R 7.5 billion, which is divided between the Department’s five main Programmes. They represent various core focus areas, as follows;

Research Development and Support receives R 4.3 billion

The Programme plays a leading role in increasing knowledge generation and is a key source of research funding for higher education institutions. In 2015/16, 4 315 researchers were awarded research grants through programmes managed by the NRF/DST.

This figure is expected to increase to 4 500 in 2017/18. The Research Development and Support Programme is also the custodian of high-level human capital development.

In 2017/18, no fewer than 32 792 pipeline postgraduate students will be awarded bursaries through NRF/DST-managed programmes. Work will continue to ensure that South Africans have access to internationally comparable research and innovation infrastructure.

‘Between 2017/18 and 2019/20, 90 new research infrastructure grants will be awarded in response to the needs across the innovation value chain (that is, from equipment for fundamental research to high-end technology infrastructure), and the total available broadband capacity provided through the South African National Research Network (SANReN) will be increased to 3 500 Gigabits per second (or 3.5 Terabits per second), which will assist in providing more efficient transmission of data to all research and academic institutions and national projects’.

Socio-economic Innovation Partnerships receives R1,6 billion

The programme will spend this allocation on supporting the development of science and technology-based innovations for tackling poverty, including the creation of sustainable jobs and sustainable human settlements, and the enhanced delivery of basic services.

The programme provides policy, strategy and direction setting for the research and development-led growth of strategic sectors of the economy, and support for the transition to a green economy.

It leads in and supports the development of indicators and instruments for monitoring investments in science and technology and the performance of the national system of innovation, as well as ways of strengthening policy in relation to the system.

Finally, this programme funds technology and innovation development programmes to advance strategic medium and long-term sustainable economic growth and sector development priorities, as well as public service delivery.

Technology Innovation receives an allocation of close to R1,1 billion

This will be spent on leading, informing and influencing policy development in strategic focus areas; coordinating and supporting research and skills development in space science, renewable energy and the bioeconomy; and promoting the development, commercialisation and legal protection of scientific research and development outputs, processes and services. Some of these objectives are carried out through the Technology Innovation Agency and the National Intellectual Property Management Office.

International Cooperation and Resources receives an allocation of R128,7 million

This allocation is to be used for increasing the flow of international resources into the country for science, technology and innovation-based socio-economic development; increasing the exposure of South African researchers and students to global knowledge and STI networks; supporting capacity development in Africa to develop the continent’s knowledge-based economy; contributing to the global STI discourse and policy through regional, continental and global initiatives; and increasing the participation of South Africans in international human capital development opportunities.

Administration receives R383,7 million

It is responsible for the overall management of the department and to ensure that organisations funded by the DST comply with the standards of good corporate governance and align their activities with the strategic focus of the national system of innovation.

Parliamentary grants for entities reporting to the Minister of Science and Technology (In addition to the parliamentary grants, the DST entities implement additional projects using project funding.)

The National Research Foundation (R926 million) supports and promotes research through the funding of human resource development and the provision of facilities to enable the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology, including indigenous knowledge systems.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research receives R916 million to foster industrial and scientific development, particularly through multidisciplinary research and technological development, either by itself or in cooperation with public and private sector institutions.

The Human Sciences Research Council (R305 million) undertakes, promotes and coordinates policy-relevant, problem-oriented research in the human and social sciences, including research projects for public sector users, non-governmental organisations and international development agencies in partnership with researchers all over the world, but particularly in Africa.

The Technology Innovation Agency (R397 million) stimulates and intensifies technological innovation in order to improve economic growth and the quality of life of all South Africans. The Agency is key to ensuring the translation of the research and development outcomes of higher education institutions, science councils and public entities into commercial technology products and services, thus intensifying the impact of innovation on the economy and society.

The Academy of Science of South Africa (R25 million) comprises an assembly of excellent scholars from many disciplines who are well networked both nationally and internationally and ASSAf has a mandate of promoting innovative and independent scientific thinking; promoting the optimum development of the intellectual capacity of all people; and providing effective advice and facilitating appropriate action in relation to the collective needs, opportunities and challenges of all South Africans.

The South African National Space Agency (R131 million) promotes the use of space and cooperation in space-related activities, while fostering research in space science, advancing scientific engineering through developing human capital, and providing support to industrial development in space technologies.

Today’s Lunch Programme

Over the years, we have made it a tradition to invite prominent role-players within the National System of Innovation (NSI) to give a lecture on various aspects of our work.

I am pleased to announce that Prof Michael Kahn has agreed to be our guest speaker at our event today. Prof Kahn is a policy analyst and evaluator of research and innovation. He is currently Professor Extraordinaire at the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology at Stellenbosch University.

His lecture will be on the performance of the National System of Innovation and takes place at Iziko Museum at 11h00, this morning.

Exhibitions

We have also mounted an impressive display of our work at Iziko Museum. I invite all of you and members of the public to go and see for yourselves, some of the work my department produces. A particular focus in this year’s exhibition, has been to profile grassroots innovations.

Issued by: Department of Science and Technology

Africa: #AfrSS2017 – Cybercrooks Fight Over DDoS Attack Resources

Photo: This Day

Describing it as the biggest cyber attack in history, Roi Shaposhnik of Johannesburg-based Gold N’ Links Cyber said syndicates around the world targeted a weak spot in Microsoft security updates which lead to a massive crash (file photo).

By Maria Korolov

As more groups get into the denial-of-service attack business they’re starting to get in each other’s way, according to a report released this morning.

That translates into a smaller average attack size, said Martin McKeay, senior security advocate at Cambridge, Mass.-based Akamai Technologies Inc.

There are only so many devices around that have the kind of vulnerabilities that make them potential targets for a botnet.

“And other people can come in and take over the device, and take those resources to feed their own botnet,” he said. “I’m seeing that over and over.”

He said that Akamai is seeing evidence of the contention in the threat intelligence it gathers, as well as in the size of the attacks.

The median attack size has been decreasing over the last year and a half, he said.

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At the start of 2015, the median DDoS attack size was 4 gigabits per second, and it went down to just over 500 megabits per second during the first quarter of this year.The number of very large attacks has also gone down over the past year, from 19 attacks greater than 100 gigabits per second over the course of the first quarter of 2016, to just two attacks of that size during the first quarter of this year.That could be due to the fact that several large DDoS crews were arrested at the end of last year.”Because of the high publicity of some of these attacks, we have Interpol and U.S. government agencies going after the owners and authors of those botnets,” McKeay said. “Those people are getting jailed, and that portion of the attack traffic goes away.”But that doesn’t mean that companies can get complacent about their defenses, since other groups may step in to take their place.”DDoS in general is a cyclic phenomenon,” he said. “About three years ago, it really took off and we saw a big increase. It’s been trending down for about a year but we suspect that that’s just a temporary change, and it’s going to start back up again.”Meanwhile, even smaller-sized attacks can still do a great deal of damage. According to the Akamai report, many businesses lease Internet uplinks of between 1 and 10 gigabits per second, so any attack bigger than 10 gigabits per second could take an unprotected business offline.And the capabilities of attackers keep expanding, he added.”Within two to three years, we might see a five to ten terabit attack,” he said.With more criminal groups competing for access to vulnerable devices for their botnets, does that mean that we might see less ransomware such as the WannaCry attack?No such luck.”It’s a different group of resources that are being used,” said McKeay. “When we’re talking about the ransomware like that which we’ve been seeing since Friday, that’s a completely different breed than DDoS.”NB: Join us for the Africa Security Summit (#AfrSS2017) on the 14th-15th June 2017 in Nairobi Kenya. To register and learn more about the summit click here

Africa: What Is Wannacry? What Does WannaCry Ransomware Do?

Photo: This Day

Describing it as the biggest cyber attack in history, Roi Shaposhnik of Johannesburg-based Gold N’ Links Cyber said syndicates around the world targeted a weak spot in Microsoft security updates which lead to a massive crash (file photo).

By Christina Mercer

A ransomware attack called WannaCry that was first launched on 12 May and since spread around the world impacted a number of high-profile organisations globally, including NHS England in the UK.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that will block access to your files unless you pay a ransom.

Some 47 NHS trusts fell victim to these ransomware attacks resulting in devastating consequences for some patients, as operations were cancelled and medical records held for ransom.

One theory suggested that 90 percent of NHS trusts across the UK were using Microsoft’s 16-year-old OS Windows XP, which could leave them susceptible to attacks.

What is WannaCry ransomware?

WannaCry or Wanna Decryptor ransomware seems to have used a vulnerability in Microsoft’s software.

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An exploit discovered and built upon by the USA’s National Security Agency called EternalBlue was leaked by a group called the Shadow Brokers earlier this year. It was patched by Microsoft at the time, but older versions of Windows or those without Windows Update were left open to attacks.WannaCry uses EternalBlue, which takes advantage of a vulnerability in the SMB protocol, to worm its way through local networks and online.The worm encrypts data on an infected system, and then tells the user that their files have been locked and displays information on how much is to be paid and when – up to roughly $600 in bitcoin.WannaCry, like the majority of ransomware and malware will arrive under your radar, as an email attachment or as a download on your PC. It essentially relies on victims clicking on or downloading the attachment, which causes the program to run and infect your computer with ransomware.What versions of Windows are affected?According to Microsoft’s blog, older versions of Windows that are no longer supported by Microsoft were vulnerable, which includes Windows 8 and Windows XP, which the majority of NHS Trusts were running.For those running Windows 10 or Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 systems, which has automatic updates turned on, you’ll remain protected from WannaCry.For a full description of ransomware and how it can be stopped, see here.How should businesses respond to ransomware attacks?Sadly, there isn’t a simple formula for businesses to follow in regards to ransomware. But there are a few things that businesses can do to limit the damage it causes.The biggest question is whether businesses should pay or not. In most cases, the sum of money demanded is relatively small so it might seem easier to just pay the money and if you have backups, just restore your systems with them.However, if you do pay, you’re only fueling the fire. The longer victims pay, the longer ransomware will continue to grow, or at least that’s what leading cyber security firms believe and it’s why they advise against it.The only real security from ransomware is backups and solid security best practices. Other than that, there are some decryption tools that claim to decrypt the files that the ransomware have locked down.

Africa: Google Launches Cloud IOT Core Service for Enterprises

By Matt Hamblen

Google today unveiled a cloud platform service to help organizations collect vital data from billions of Internet of Things devices.

The service, Google Cloud IoT Core, is designed to help enterprises, including utilities and transportation agencies, securely connect globally distributed devices to the Google Cloud Platform. There, the data can be centrally managed and integrated with Google’s data analytics services, said Indranil Chakraborty, cloud product manager at Google.

One customer who has been testing the new service for two months is Energyworx, a company of 40 workers that has used Google cloud services since 2014. Energyworx provides data analytics to utilities to help them plan better and improve performance.

The new Cloud IoT Core has been deployed by Energyworx to get real-time data readings from thousands of solar inverters and electric vehicle charging ports that have been deployed in California and other locales, said Edwin Poot, founder and visionary for Energyworx, in an interview. He said he expects to expand the test of Cloud IoT Core to include collection of data from millions of smart utiity meters used to measure water and gas in coming years.

Cloud IoT Core provides a communications bridge between Google analytics and devices in the field, Poot said. Many of the devices, including solar invertors, rely on distinct or arcane data protocols that Google services can translate without manual intervention. (A solar inverter converts the variable direct current of a solar panel into a utility frequency alternating current that can be fed into the commercial electric grid.)

With the service, utilities can send control commands to meters, turning them on off, he said.

Energyworx only pays Google for the IoT devices it uses to receive data, Poot said, which should keep costs low. Overall, Poot said Google cloud services have cost a 10th what Energyworx was paying to Amazon Web Services, which it used prior to 2014.

“We’re seeing the power of cloud will grow fast and this [Google IoT] approach will be scalable,” Poot said. “We don’t install anything and don’t maintain anything. We just program it and use it and don’t worry about anything else.”

Africa

Continent Calls for Funding to Restore Degraded Forests, Land

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Tanzania: Halotel Principals in Hot Soup

By Faustine Kapama

The Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam yesterday sentenced Viettel Tanzania Limited, its Managing Director, Do Manh Hong (44) and seven other foreigners to pay a total of 689m/- for occasioning loss to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

This sum includes 459m/- of actual losses occasioned for fraudulent use of communication network and the rest relates to fines imposed after Principal Resident Magistrate Wilbard Mashauri convicted the accused persons on their own plea of guilty to several counts for which they stood charged.

Viettel Tanzania Limited, trading as Halotel, which is a mobile communications company providing voice, messaging, data and converged services in Tanzania had to save the day to rescue its managing director after undertaking to pay a total of 479m/- out of the total amount imposed.

The remaining amount of 210m/- will have to be borne out by other convicts. They are Dilshad Ahmed (36), Rohail Yaqoob (47), Khalid Mahmood (59), Ashfaq Ahmed (38), Muhamad Aneess (48), Imtiaz Ammar (33), who are Pakistan nationals, and a Sri-Lankan, Ramesh Kandasamy (36).

Delivering the sentence, the magistrate sent a strong message to foreign investors against engaging in malpractices in the communications industry.

Instead of investing for the betterment of the nation, they decided to sabotage the country’s economy. He warned that nothing of the sort would be entertained.

The magistrate ordered each accused person to pay a fine of 5m/- for each of seven counts of importation and installation of electronic communication equipment without a licence, use of unapproved electronic equipment and operating electronic communications without a licence.

There was another charge against Viettel Tanzania Limited, namely, that of its Managing Director’s failure to verify some information.

Apart from paying such fine, all the convicts were ordered to pay the losses occasioned to TCRA. Earlier, upon been convicted, Senior State Attorneys Jehovanase Zacharia, for the prosecution, had asked the court to provide severe sentences to the accused persons in order to deter other foreigners, who would be tempted to commit such crimes.

However, defence counsel Fatuma Seif and Samwel Shadrack, requested the court to provide lenient sentences to their clients because they were first offenders to face conviction in a criminal offence and that they had dependent families.

It was alleged that on diverse dates between November 2016 and February 2017 in the city, the accused persons unlawfully created a system designated to fraudulently use or obtain network service with intent to avoid rates payable for receiving or transmitting international incoming traffic.

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South Africa: Improved Policies to Secure Cyberspace

Pretoria — Government is making inroads in putting in place policy and legislative measures that will secure South Africa’s cyberspace.

These include the Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Bill, which is currently before Parliament, after having gone through a process of consultation with the relevant stakeholders.

The Bill seeks to ensure that the country has the relevant legislative framework in place.

In partnership with institutions of higher learning, government has also launched capacity building programmes that will bolster the State Security Agency’s capacity to respond to the problem of cyber insecurity.

“These initiatives will not only bolster the capacity of government to respond to cyber insecurity, but it will create a skills base that will improve cybersecurity for the public and private sectors,” said State Security Mister David Mahlobo on Tuesday.

Such efforts come as South Africa remains one of the targets for cybercrime.

Research shows that small companies and ordinary citizens, especially unsuspecting children, are being increasingly targeted by cyber criminals. Hacktivists from ransomware, identity theft, cyber bullying, internet banking fraud and the misuse of social networks are some of the most rampant challenges in cyberspace.

Last weekend, the world experienced ransomware attacks on networks. This had potentially disastrous consequences for individuals, governments, business and society as a whole.

The recent attacks affected more than 100 countries, including the UK health care system and railway system in Germany, among others.

Minister Mahlobo said the Government Computer Security Incident Response Centre is monitoring the situation, after having sent advisories to government departments, State-owned enterprises and financial institutions to secure their networks.

South Africa

Families of Trapped Lily Mine Workers Each Paid R200 000 – Labour Union

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Africa: Hacker Group Teases More Windows Exploits, Cyberespionage Data

Photo: This Day

Describing it as the biggest cyber attack in history, Roi Shaposhnik of Johannesburg-based Gold N’ Links Cyber said syndicates around the world targeted a weak spot in Microsoft security updates which lead to a massive crash (file photo).

By Lucian Constantin

A group of hackers that previously leaked alleged U.S. National Security Agency exploits claims to have even more attack tools in its possession and plans to release them in a new subscription-based service.

The group also has intelligence gathered by the NSA on foreign banks and ballistic missile programs, it said.

The Shadow Brokers was responsible for leaking EternalBlue, the Windows SMB exploit that was used by attackers in recent days to infect hundreds of thousands of computers around the world with the WannaCry ransomware program.

The group first appeared online in August and claimed that it had access to the arsenal of a cyberespionage group known in the security industry as the Equation, widely believed to be a hacking division of the NSA.

On Tuesday, following the WannaCry attacks, the Shadow Brokers posted a new message online in which they claim to have many more Equation exploits that haven’t been leaked yet. The group wants to make them available as part of a new subscription-based service that it plans to launch in June.

The group initially released a set of hacking tools for routers and firewall products but claimed it had much more it was willing to sell for 10,000 bitcoins or more — around US$12 million. After failing to attract any bids, the group dumped more information, including IP addresses of systems targeted by the Equation.

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The Shadow Brokers eventually called it quits in January and disabled its online accounts, only to return in April in a surprise move that involved publishing the password for an encrypted archive containing many Linux and Windows exploits, as well as malware implants supposedly used by the Equation.Most of the vulnerabilities targeted by the leaked exploits had already been patched by that time, including EternalBlue, which Microsoft fixed in March.According to the hackers, data that will be leaked monthly through the new subscription service could include exploits for web browsers, routers, mobile devices, and Windows 10, as well as data extracted by the Equation during its cyberespionage operations. The information is supposed to include data stolen from SWIFT providers and central banks and data from “Russian, Chinese, Iranian, or North Korean nukes and missile programs.”What subscribers will do with these exploits and data will be up to them, the group said.No one appears to have paid the Shadow Brokers for access to the Equation arsenal in the past, at least as far as it’s publicly known. The group has even expressed its frustration about this lack of interest in its offers.It’s unclear if a subscription-based model will attract more interest, with no price announced yet. However, given the group’s track record of leaking legitimate information that many believe to be sourced from the NSA, it is likely that at some point, this data will become public, one way or another.

Zimbabwe: Telecoms Firms Warned to Improve Service

By Zvamaida Murwira

Gokwe — The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) is set to be tough on telecommunication operators whose services fall short of statutory standards, an official has said.

Potraz executive officer responsible for economic and financial analysis Mr Talent Munyaradzi said they were winding up countrywide road shows in which they were receiving feedback from users of telecommunication services and would soon ensure that they enforced the law.

Mr Munyaradzi said this in an interview in Gokwe Nembudziya on Saturday where his organisation was conducting a road show aimed at raising awareness on consumer grievances.

He said there was a Statutory Instrument governing services, both postal and mobile service providers, and Potraz would impose varied penalties on service providers.

Mr Munyaradzi said they would be on high alert to ensure service providers complied with the law.

This comes against the background where the quality of service, including call set up time (ease of connectivity), duration of uninterrupted calls and internet speeds have at times been and continue to be an issue for users.

Prior to Government’s promulgation of a law that specifically outlines quality of service standards, Potraz had no benchmark against which to hold operators, neither did consumers have basis on which to hold services, particularly mobile network operators. “We have been moving around the country interacting with consumers,” said Mr Munyaradzi. “We heard about their complaints and we also told them that they ought to direct complaints to Potraz.

“We will be issuing out show cause orders to various service providers on why their services were failing to comply with the law on quality of services. We will impose fines of varied amounts for operators who fall short of the benchmark of services.”

Mr Munyaradzi said in their interaction with consumers, the major complaint was on the duration of data bundles by mobile network operators. “They are complaining that there is a mismatch between the window period of say one week and the time that it will actually take when one is credited with data bundles,” he said. “They said the data bundles were not lasting the given duration.”

Mr Munyaradzi said while Potraz would look into the issue, there seemed to be lack of information that the one week window period was mainly for ordinary use of data bundles. “You will notice that in most cases, these data bundles have window periods in terms of say 90 megabytes,” he said. “So, an ordinary use would last one week.”

Gokwe Nembudziya legislator Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena implored consumers to be responsible in the use of social media. “It is a crime, as what Potraz officials would confirm, to send offensive messages,” he said. “Let us be responsible when we use social media via our mobile phones.”

Cde Wadyajena said Potraz was there to protect consumers and should fully use them in directing complaints.

In terms of new regulations promulgated and adopted by Potraz last year, telecommunication service providers are compelled to observe minimum service quality and customer care standards in provision of services such as voice, internet and data connectivity, short message and multimedia message services.

Potraz has in the past said it was disturbed by the shoddy service quality from some of the operators.

According to regulations, call completion rate, calls successfully set-up, maintained and terminated normally by the calling or called party should be equal or exceed 80 percent, while the rate of voice calls and dropped calls should be restricted within the two percent band.

Tanzania: Govt Gets 63 Billion/ – Taxes From Mobile Money Transactions

Dodoma — Mobile Money transactions have brought in 63bn/- as taxes to the government coffers for the past four years, thanks to Telecommunications Traffic Monitoring System (TTMS).

The government told the National Assembly that the money, which was collected from October 2013 to February 2017, was shared between the treasury and Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH).

The Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, Engineer Edwin Ngonyani, said that out of it 56 billion/- went to the treasury and the remaining 6bn/- was channeled to COSTECH for financing various researches.

“The researches are for national benefit and before the establishment of TTMS such revenue could not be obtained,” he said. His statement came after a question by Kigamboni lawmaker, Dr Faustine Ndugulile (CCM) who asked for updates on operations of the TTMS since installation and amount collected so far.

The TTMS, which was installed in 2013, is implemented by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA). The system provides the authority with technological solutions required to measure and analyze key aspects of the sector in an independent way, with a view of ensuring both regulatory compliance and the exhaustive collection of levies by the State.

Eng Ngonyani said that the government will continue building capacity among experts at TCRA, for the organisation to keep up with technological advancement in the world.

Meanwhile, Busega MP Raphael Chegeni (CCM) also wanted to know when the government will start controlling mobile phone charges, following complaints from phone users that the mobile phone companies have been overcharging them.

Eng Ngonyani said the work to install the Revenue Assurance system was ongoing, arguing that the system will monitor all mobile telephone companies in the country.

Tanzania

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