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Thursday, October 31, 2013


Windows XP users already face far higher risks from malware  – with XP users facing infection rates six times higher than Windows 8 users, according to a report released by the company. Microsoft will withdraw support for the ageing platform in April next year – despite the fact that one in five PCs on Earth still use it.

Per 1,000 PCs scanned, 9.1 XP machines had been infected – as compared to 1.6 for Windows 8, according to a report by V3.

“Microsoft Windows XP was released almost 12 years ago, which is an eternity in technology terms. While we are proud of Windows XP’s success in serving the needs of so many people for more than a decade, inevitably there is a tipping point where dated software and hardware can no longer defend against modern day threats and increasingly sophisticated cybercriminals,” Microsoft wrote in a statement this week.

Around 21% of PCs worldwide still run Windows XP, according to a report by Neowin, speaking to Holly Stewart, Senior Program Manager of the Microsoft Malware Protection Center. In the U.S., 13% of PCs still use Windows XP.

“On April 8 2014, support will end for Windows XP. This means Windows XP users will no longer receive security updates, non-security hotfixes or free/paid assisted support options and online technical content updates. After end of support, attackers will have an advantage over defenders who continue to run Windows XP,” Microsoft said.

Google and Mozilla have both said they will continue to support their browsers after that point. The OS, however, will be vulnerable. After April, only companies paying for custom support will be protected – and up to a third of organizations are expected to still use Windows XP machines, according to earlier research by British firm Camwood.

Some security experts predict a “wave” of attacks at that point, with cybercriminals having banked exploits in anticipation of that moment.

“The average price on the black market for a Windows XP exploit is $50,000 to $150,000 – a relatively low price that reflects Microsoft’s response,” said Jason Fossen of security training company SANS earlier this year.

“When someone discovers a very reliable, remotely executable XP vulnerability, and publishes it today, Microsoft will patch it in a few weeks. But if they sit on a vulnerability, the price for it could very well double.”

Many firms have been slow to migrate from the ageing platform – despite the fact that Microsoft recommended leaving at least 18 months to migrate.

UN Atomic Agency Suffers Malware Attack

The UN atomic agency said  that some of its computers were infected by malicious software, in its second embarrassing IT slip-up over the past year. 

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which holds highly sensitive information on its member states' nuclear facilities, said however that none of its data was compromised.

"During the past months, some computers operated by the IAEA have been infected by malware," spokesman Serge Gas said. "No data from the IAEA network has been affected."

The malware hit data on the USB drives of visitors to the IAEA in Vienna, although the devices themselves were not infected and did not spread the bug further, the IAEA believes.

Last November, the IAEA revealed that hackers had accessed one of its computer servers and posted the contact details of some of the watchdog's experts online.

"Protecting information is vital to the IAEA's work. The agency continuously endeavours to achieve the highest possible level of protection of information," Gas said.

Mexico and France, Demand Answers Over US Spying

France and Mexico have angrily demanded prompt explanations from the United States after new spying allegations leaked by former US security contractor Edward Snowden. 

The reports published in French daily Le Monde and German weekly Der Spiegel claim that the US National Security Agency (NSA) secretly monitored tens of millions of phone calls in France and hacked into former Mexican President Felipe Calderon's email account.
They come on top of revelations already leaked by Snowden and published in June that the US had a vast, secret programme called PRISM to monitor Internet users, which French prosecutors are already investigating.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he was "deeply shocked" by the revelations -- the same word used by Interior Minister Manuel Valls -- and demanded an explanation from US authorities.

"It's incredible that an allied country like the United States at this point goes as far as spying on private communications that have no strategic justification, no justification on the basis of national defence," he told journalists in Copenhagen French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, on a trip to Luxembourg for a meeting with his EU counterparts, said the US ambassador had been summoned to his ministry for a meeting Monday morning.

"These kinds of practices between partners that harm privacy are totally unacceptable. We have to rapidly make sure that they are no longer implemented in any circumstance," he told reporters.

It was the second time in less than four months that the American ambassador in Paris has been hauled in over revelations about US snooping.

The latest leak is also expected to prove embarrassing for US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was due in Paris on Monday for talks with Arab officials.

Fabius will raise the issue with him in talks planned for Tuesday morning, a ministry spokesman said.

The NSA monitored 70.3 million phone calls in France over a 30-day period between December 10 and January 8 this year, Le Monde reported in its online version, citing documents from Snowden.

According to the paper, the spy agency automatically picked up communications from certain phone numbers in France and recorded certain text messages under a programme code-named "US-985D".

Le Monde said the documents gave grounds to believe that the NSA targeted not only people suspected of being involved in terrorism but also high-profile individuals in business and politics.

US authorities declined comment to the French daily on the "classified" documents.

'A lucrative source'
The Le Monde article followed revelations by Der Spiegel -- also based on documents provided by Snowden -- that US agents had hacked into the Mexican presidency's network, gaining access to Calderon's account.

According to the report, the NSA said this contained "diplomatic, economic and leadership communications which continue to provide insight into Mexico's political system and internal stability."

The agency reportedly said the president's office was now "a lucrative source."
Mexican authorities said they would be seeking answers from US officials "as soon as possible" following the allegations.

"The Mexican government reiterates its categorical condemnation of the violation of privacy of institutional communications and Mexican citizens," the foreign ministry said in a statement Sunday.

"This practice is unacceptable, illegitimate and contrary to Mexican law and international law."

This is not the first time that France and Mexico have been hit by allegations of spying by the NSA since information leaked by Snowden first emerged in June.

Mexico's current President Enrique Pena Nieto has already complained to his US counterpart Barack Obama over reports US spies have gone through his emails.
And Der Spiegel reported last month that in 2010 the NSA monitored the internal computer network of France's diplomats and that of the foreign ministry itself.

But France itself has also been accused of spying. Le Monde reported over the summer that intelligence services intercepted all communications in the country, stocking telephone and computer data for years -- accusations denied by the government.
Snowden, who has taken refuge in Russia, is wanted in the United States for espionage and other charges after the leaks.

The fugitive went into hiding in Hong Kong in May and flew to Moscow on June 23, where he stayed in the transit area for more than a month before being given temporary asylum and leaving the airport for a safe location.

  Snowden's revelations have caused Obama acute embarrassment in his relations with other allies. He has since proposed reforms of US surveillance programs in the wake of the furore

US Taps Communications Links to Google, Yahoo Data Centers: Report

The US National Security Agency has tapped into key communications links from Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. 

The Post, citing documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with officials, said the program can collect data at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts, including from Americans.

The report said the program dubbed MUSCULAR, operated jointly with NSA's British counterpart GCHQ, indicated that the agencies can intercept data flows from the fiber-optic cables used by the US Internet giants.

The Post report suggests this is a secret program that is unlike PRISM, which relies on court orders to obtain data from technology firms.

According to a top secret document cited by the newspaper dated January 9, 2013, some 181 million records were collected in the prior 30 days, ranging from metadata on emails to content such as text, audio and video.

The document shown by the Post indicates that the NSA intercept takes place outside the United States, and that an unnamed telecommunications provider allowed the secret access.

A graphic in the document suggested that the interception at Google came at a point between the public Internet and Google "cloud" servers.
Acting outside US territory would give the NSA more latitude than within the United States, where it would require court orders, the Post noted.

The NSA, Google and Yahoo did not immediately respond to AFP queries on the report. The Post reported that Google and Yahoo indicated they had not authorized any such access.

NSA chief General Keith Alexander, asked about the allegations during a Washington conference, said he was unaware of the report but argued that the allegations appeared to be inaccurate.

"That (activity) to my knowledge, this never happened," he said.
"In fact there was this allegation in June that the NSA was tapping into the servers of Yahoo or Google, that is factually incorrect."

He added that NSA gains access to data "by court order" and that it would not be "breaking into any databases."

The report comes amid a storm of protest about NSA surveillance both at home and overseas of phone and Internet communications.

On Tuesday, US officials said reports that American spy agencies snooped on millions of Europeans were false.

Alexander told lawmakers that in many cases European spy agencies had turned over phone call records and shared them with US intelligence.

Are netbooks a security risk?

Netbooks are cheapish, fairly basic in features, portable and keep going for hours if you are careful to buy one with a 6-cell battery. But are they secure?

It's a valid question. Do low-cost computers have the power to run the anti-malware programs other laptop users would never dare home without? What about the sclerotic Windows XP firewall? Or any firewall? Or a secure VPN back to HQ? Or encrypt and decrypt decent amounts of data without making the user wait?

I have yet to read a single review of these machines that devotes more than the odd sentence to such worries, which might have something to do with the fact that they tend to be reviewed by consumer-oriented titles and amateurs on YouTube for which they are little more than ‘dinky kit'.

Poke any marketing manager for a large anti-virus software outfit and you'll certainly receive a ‘concerned' response, but that doesn't exactly raise the issue to a higher plane. Such people would sell AV for integrated ovens if they thought they could get away with it.
Another view is simpler; buy Linux netbooks and avoid 99 percent of the hassle.
The fact that netbooks don't have corporate levels of security is an indictment of security not the netbook concept. It seems to me introducing the whole over-engineered idea of software security that plagues today's PCs is a recipe for unnecessary expense and complexity. That is not what netbooks are supposed to be about.

Netbooks in their current form will not work with most large companies any more than some laptops will work in such enterprises, and should not be shoehorned into doing so. What those companies need are a new class of netbooks that allow portable computing to work without (as has often been the case in the past) asking for a capital outlay in excess of £1000.

Portable computing doesn't have to be perfect to be viable, it has to be portable. Netbooks have re-invigorated the idea of the portable computer in a perfectly compromised form, and the lack of response from security companies to this evolution should not be used to disparage the usefulness of the idea.

Seven Habits for the Security Conscious

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer recently revealed that she does not protect access to her smartphone with a passcode, leaving her mobile device potentially exposed if someone is able to snag it. Though I have seen security wonks almost stroke out over this, is it really a big deal? Probably not. Someone would have to get her phone away from her, and given her role at Yahoo I suspect the thing is practically surgically implanted.

The point is more that the passcode has not become a habit for Mayer. We are all creatures of habit. I put my left sock on first. I start brushing my teeth on my lower right. As a race, we like routine. We tend to like some things to be predictable. That is neither right nor wrong; it just is.

“Security” is also a creature of habit. Security likes things to stay the same. Change brings chaos. Chaos is bad for security. But, we can help control the security of our environment by following good security habits.

What habits?
Answer these questions to see how you rate yourself against the Seven Habits for the Security Conscious. You get no score, just understand that every time you honestly give a negative answer, it means you are indicating that you have a little less control over the security of your own environment.

1.  Do you lock your phone, iPad, Surface or other tablet with a passcode to help keep the phone contents safe from anyone who might steal it or find it?

By locking your phone you are committing yourself to unlocking it nearly every time you want to make a call or send a text. The most significant part of this equation is in understanding what kind of cool data you have on your phone. If the most important thing on your phone is the phone number of your spouse or your Angry Birds high score, locking it is probably not such a big deal.

But, if you are like most people, your phone also includes Facebook and Twitter passwords, possibly online banking passwords, personal email, and probably work email (with the variety of confidential and non-public data that entails). The fact that it is a “Phone” is not as significant as the type of data that you actually have on your phone. 

Compare the type of data you have on your phone to the type of data you have on your laptop. Modern smartphones have access to much of the same types of data as laptops, and are realistically even more vulnerable since they are smaller, and thus more easily lost or stolen, and include phone functions extending your ability to communicate with them.

What if I asked the question this way: Do you lock your laptop with a password to help keep the laptop contents safe from anyone who might steal it or find it?

2. Are your passwords/passcode decent ones?
Everyone should know what I mean, so no excessive beating a dead horse here. Suffice to say that if your password is akin to “1234567”, “password”, or “qwertyui”, then you need a new password.

 Because, even though, theoretically, a bad password provides “some” security, what it probably provides most is a false sense of security. Because “qwertyui” really isn’t going to protect you from much of anything. It’s not as if you need a password like “jhH12#n(3W” on everything, but is something like “hApe7*fEEt” So unreasonable? (Don’t use it…).

 As far as your phone passcode goes, the most popular phone passcodes are simple patterns like “1234”, “0000” or “1111”. If you need a passcode, you might try starting it with 6, 7, 8 or 9, and not making it a continuous pattern (like “9632”).

3. Have you changed your password recently?
You don't have to go nuts here. I use an application at work that seems to require a password change every single time I log in – at most every 30 days. I am security paranoid and that seems like a little much.

 But, I worked an incident once where an ex-employee of the client had breached the company’s site and posted a list of executive salaries on their external website.

 It turns out that the file server that held the data, and the webserver were both still protected by the same passwords that they had been using when the guy had still been employed – 14 months after he had been let go. While every 30 days might be a little much, every 14 months might not be enough.

In another example, I was doing a physical walkthrough with a client as we talked about what was good and bad about his physical security. We got to the data center and he proudly told me that only three people in the company had the door combination.

 I glanced at the keypad at an angle, and could see that the keys for numbers 4, 6, and 9 were dulled. As I talked with my escort I absently reached down and keyed in 4469. No luck. But 4669 worked, and I opened the data center door for him. I enjoyed the moment as he looked at me like it was magic, but the point was that he had kept the door combination the same for several years. Hrm… definitely too long.

So, yes, this one actually is important.

4. Do you know when the last time your computer was backed up?
For both work and play. When was the last time you made sure that all of your local files were stored on a server at work? It is awesome if this is automatically done for you, but with a mobile workforce in a dynamic and diverse environment, even automatic backups do not always work. And is the same true at home? This is working on an assumption that you have data in your home environment that you care about.

Your first answer may be that you don’t. I kind of always felt that way until my home computer crashed so hard it actually physically damaged my hard drive. I was not too worried about having to reinstall applications, or even the saved games I lost for whatever computer game I was playing. But, I lost two years of tax returns as well as all the photos from our digital camera from about the previous five years.

Luckily, I was able to use data recovery software and restore almost everything, and that only cost me a couple hundred bucks for the software, a couple hundred bucks for a new hard drive, and about 20 hours to recover the data. Now I have a home server that backs up every computer in my house once a week.

So, when my daughter’s computer was infected by Zbot (Zeus Trojan), rather than try to clean it, I was able to just rebuild and restore over it – in a matter of minutes. Because I have created the habit of regular backups (learned my lesson. Booyah!).

5. Do you use a secure wi-fi network?
So, do you have a good password on your local wi-fi network, running at least WPA key? Same rules apply to this password as for #2 above. If you have a Linksys router and still have “admin” as your password, or have it match your SSID name, or some other such foolishness, you should really reconsider.

You really don’t want someone using your wireless network. They can get access to your networked resources, they can piggyback on your network usage, and they can look like you.

Or, there is this case where a family’s unsecured wireless network was used by someone threatening the police. When the SWAT team came for a visit, and they didn’t bring a bottle of wine, they brought flashbangs and a battering ram. The poor people had no idea what was happening when SWAT came storming in.

Old news? I would like to think so, but as I sit here at home I can see wireless networks for six of my neighbors. And, yes, two of those are unsecured networks.

6. Do you USE antivirus (AV) software?
By “use” I don’t just mean “have it installed”. I mean, make sure it is correctly installed, updates regularly, scans regularly, is used in ad-hoc scans, and that you actually check scan results and logs – at least once in a while. It is not like an antivirus suite will magically keep you safe, BUT it will help, as long as you understand its limitations.

I know a guy who kept complaining that his computer was running slow. Before I visited him, I downloaded a couple antimalware apps to a flash drive and took them with me. Even with a couple Stellas in me it took me no time to load the software and start a scan.

A scan that took about two hours.

And found 247 pieces of malware. Yes, 247.
He opted to clean the computer instead of rebuilding it. It took about four passes of scans and repairs before he got a clean scan. We then reinstalled his antivirus and firewall, which had both been disabled by a Trojan horse. I told him that it looked like he had been infected for months, and that he might have noticed sooner if he had ever checked his software to make sure it was running correctly.

Then I told him to quit browsing porn.

7. Are you a little paranoid?
The answer is not “a little paranoid what?” Maybe “skeptical” is a better word. I suspect that the chances you have NOT gotten a phishing email today is probably near 0%. Be skeptical about everything. If your friend sends you a link to an online survey, to Jackie Chan’s death, or Miley Cyrus doing something nasty, your first thought should be “Um. No.”, not “Oh wow!”

Say, for instance that your bank, Facebook, Amazon, Paypal or eBay sent you an email that says you have an account problem and we have conveniently included this link for you to log in and fix it. Chances that is a genuine email that is really from the alleged source is probably about the same that you were genuinely contacted by the Honorable Professor Mubumba, and he truly does need your help transferring $7,000,000 out of Nigeria.

You don’t have to be an online jerk, but you are better off if you don’t trust too much.

There are plenty of other security habits we should all have, so stopping the list at seven may be a little naïve. But I will assert that if we all followed these seven, we would not have to worry about habits 8-25 nearly as much.

Why curved smartphone screens massively increase image quality, daylight readability

Believe it or not, the curved screen on the Samsung Galaxy Round smartphone isn’t just a marketing gimmick: The curvature actually causes a series of optical effects that result in improved contrast, color accuracy, readability, and overall image quality — especially under ambient light that usually makes smartphone screens almost unreadable, such as daylight or fluorescent office lighting.

This new information about curved displays comes from Raymond Soneira, who is one of the few authorities on display technology, image quality, and color calibration. From the story on his site, it sounds like Samsung gave him a Galaxy Note 3, the Galaxy Round (which is the Note 3 but with a curved display), and a standalone, free-standing OLED display from the Round (which he could bend and flex to his heart’s content). While he hasn’t yet produced his usual slew of images and graphs, it’s clear that he’s very surprised by the massive gain in image quality afforded by the curved display.

For the most part, curved displays are better than their flat siblings due to drastically different reflectance. To begin with, hold your smartphone in front of you, with the screen off. If you’re outside or in the office, you will notice a huge amount of reflections — your face, overhead lighting, etc.

These reflections don’t go away when you turn the screen on; they are merely masked by the patterns displayed on the screen, and the brightness of the display. This is why image quality is generally so atrocious when there’s a lot of ambient light, and why display brightness is valued so highly. Manufacturers are making big strides in reducing reflectance — by introducing new filters, reducing the distance between the display and the protective front glass, etc. — but ultimately, a flat piece of black-backed glass is always going to be pretty reflective.

The Galaxy Round display is only slightly curved along the horizontal plane — the edges are 2.6mm (0.1 inches) higher than the center of the screen — but, believe it or not, this is enough to cause the same magnification as a convex hand mirror. This magnification (and the curvature in general) results in huge improvements almost across the board, from more saturation to better color accuracy and readability.

Most of these gains come from the magnification, which causes three important effects. First, by magnifying your face (by two or more, depending on your viewing distance), less light from behind your face is reflected by the display. Your face is usually shadowed, and doesn’t cause much reflection. Second, the magnification process also dims the reflection of your face (the light is being spread out by the magnification), resulting in less reflectance. Ironically, this also means it isn’t so easy to use a curved display for personal grooming. Finally, at a typical viewing distance of 16 inches (40 cm), the magnification factor is so large that your face becomes a featureless blur, again reducing the amount of noticeable/disruptive reflectance.

Beyond magnification, the simple fact that it’s a curved display means less non-direct light reflects of the screen — and any light from behind you that does hit the screen gets reflected away from your eyes (specular reflection).

All of these factors combine to create a display that, according to Soneira, is massively improved over the Galaxy Note 3 — which itself has a very highly regarded display. The reduced reflectance should also mean that display brightness can be reduced, increasing battery life, though it isn’t clear if the Galaxy Round does this. In fact, from the marketing materials, it isn’t even clear if Samsung is aware of the advantages of curved displays — though, following Soneira’s glowing analysis, the Korean chaebol surely knows now.

NSA denies spying on pope

The US National Security Agency issued a statement late Wednesday saying that a report in an Italian news magazine that the agency has targeted the Vatican is false.

"The National Security Agency does not target the Vatican. Assertions that NSA has targeted the Vatican, published in Italy's Panorama magazine, are not true," the NSA Public Affairs Office said in an e-mailed statement.

According to Religion News Service, Panorama reported that the NSA surveilled cardinals right up until they met to choose a new pope and that the eavesdropping may have included the new pope himself, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.

Panorama reported that the Santa Marta guesthouse in the Vatican, which housed Bergoglio and the rest of the College of Cardinals, had its phones tapped and that "recorded communications from the Vatican were categorized in one of four sections: leadership, financial system threats, foreign policy objectives, and human rights issues."

Religion News Service reported that a Vatican representative told the outlet, "We have heard nothing of this and are not worried," and it suggested that, in any case, the Vatican had novel means of foiling any high-tech surveillance:

The Vatican remains a highly secretive institution, with many operations conducted through time-honored means that would make spying difficult -- communicating with instructions written on paper, often in Latin.

The vote to select the new pope was conducted on paper ballots that were burned after each round of voting, and for the last two conclaves the Sistine Chapel was swept for listening devices and cardinals were required to leave electronic devices outside.

Best tools for protecting passwords

For companies and individuals trying to get a handle on password management, the good news is that there are products that can help implement stronger password policies for end users logging into corporate and personal Web-based services, as well as for employees who share a local server login.

The goal here is to make the password process more secure, and also to let users login to particular resources without having to remember all of their individual passwords.

We looked at 5 products, ranging from consumer-oriented to enterprise-only. They include:  LastPass Enterprise, Lieberman Enterprise Random Password Manager, 1Password, RoboForm Enterprise, and TrendMicro DirectPass. 

The products use a master password vault to store all their information in encrypted form. And all but TrendMicro have a way to generate a complex password and insert it into the login process so users don't have to try to come up with something on their own. This makes life easier for end users and also eliminates the security problems associated with users picking one password for all their logins.

In this review, each product has  the ability to synchronize passwords across a different collection of clients and servers. For Lieberman, this means synchronizing the logins to internal servers across multiple users who want to share the same password. For the other products, it means having the same user with multiple devices keep track of passwords for Web services.

Below are the products:

1.LastPass Enterprise offers excellent price/performance and boasts strong management features. LastPass also has the widestn desktop and mobile platform support of any of the products we tested.

2. Lieberman has the best features for local server password management, and the Lieberman tool was the only one in our testsn that worked flawlessly.

3.1Password is a consumer-focused product that allows you to store more than just passwords in your vault.

 4.RoboForm has a nice balance of enterprise features and strong bulk password management, but we had some support issues.
5. TrendMicro's software is the least developed, although the next version is expected to fix many deficiencies.n

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

African Heads of States have Agreed!!!!!

Kenya’s government has described technology as “a powerful tool” that it has prioritized as part of a development agenda to better the lives of its citizens.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is quoted extensively in a report published by Capital FM, based on his address at an interactive session for Heads of State at the Transform Africa Summit hosted is week in Kigali, Rwanda.

ICT has been identified by Kenya’s administration as a catalyst to spur an industrial revolution, underpinned by a reduction in the cost of doing business and other economic measures that are key to transformation and growth.

President Kenyatta emphasized the importance of initiatives such as the laptop project and identified job creation as one of the main benefits to fully utilizing ICT, according to the Capital FM report.
He is quoted as saying, “We are introducing laptops to our children because we want them to begin, right from their basic education, to know that this is one of the greatest tools that have the power to significantly improve life.”

One of the reported takeaways from the Summit was an agreement between African Heads of State that the continent has to embrace ICT in order to compete internationally and it must be prioritized in order to achieve development goals.

Bill Gates -11 lessons you will never learn in School

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, one of the richest people in the world, is well known for the nuggets of wisdom he occasionally imparts on the young and old alike. At a speech he gave at a high school graduation, he sought to bring them back down to earth by correcting some of their misconceptions about life in the real world. No political correctness here – just one big reality check that, if taken to heart, will help us on the real life after school.

RULE 1: Life’s not fair. Get used to it
You could be the smartest, hardest working most noble person alive and still not get that A. Or promotion. Or the girl, whatever floats your boat. The sooner you stop expecting life to hand you the things you think you “deserve”, the easier it will be to bounce back in those times when life knocks you down and just keeps kicking. You could earn your way to that promotion and still have it snatched from under you – get over it. That doesn’t mean sit back and take it. It means that you need to learn from those ugly situations and better position yourself to reap the benefits of your diligence.

RULE 2: The World Doesn’t care about your self esteem
“The world expects you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself” … so get on it. Start making something of yourself today. Right now. That idea you’ve been pushing to the back of your mind might be just the thing to propel you to the limelight, so get on it. You only truly fail if you never try.

RULE 3: You will not make six figure salary right after school
“You won’t be a vice president with a car phone until you earn both.” This addresses the entitled behavior that young people display on a daily basis. It’s not a good look for anyone to act like the world should unfurl a red carpet at their feet just because they showed up. You have to work hard for what you get – I’m talking sweat and blood here, and don’t expect anyone’s gratitude for it.

RULE 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you meet your boss
All those deadlines you think are unreasonable at best, those times she locked you out of class because you showed up late? Ten times worse with a boss. Only, instead of chewing you out infront of a classroom, it’s a whole office. Teachers are legally mandated to show some restraint, bosses aren’t. He’ll call you all sorts of names your teacher only dreams of saying to your face, then show you the way to the unemployment line. This isn’t to scare you off of gainful employment, just to encourage you to practice dealing with difficult authority figures, to better prepare you for the future, so you can avoid an emotional outburst at the office.

RULE 5: Flipping buggers is not beneath your dignity
“Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping – they called it OPPORTUNITY.” So get over yourself and take that job that you think is beneath you. A waiter/waitress position opens up at your favorite restaurant? Swallow your pride and take it. Use that as a stepping stone. The richest men in the world started off as paper boys – remember that.

RULE 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents fault
“So don’t whine about your mistake – learn from them.” Too many people fall into the trap of claiming “mommy” and “daddy” issues when they mess up. According to Bill Gates, you need to stop spreading the blame around and take responsibility for your failures. Only then do you earn the right to own your successes as well.

RULE 7: Your folks know something you don’t know     
“Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you think you are. So before you save the rainforests from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.” Self-explanatory.

RULE 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not
“In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many tries as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.” Only the strong survive. This doesn’t mean that it’s okay to do whatever it takes to come out ahead – the end does not justify the means. It just means that you need to keep the big picture in mind – to remember that while it’s okay to do your best, it’s better to always ensure that you go the extra mile to prove yourself.

RULE 9: Life is not divided into semesters
“You don’t get summer off and very few employers are interested in helping you “find yourself”. Do that on your own time.” This is one thing most students don’t realize. The real world won’t give you time off to recoup your strength. Once life starts it just goes on and on, and on. The sooner you shift your way of thinking from seeing your holiday as time off, but as time to be spent making something worthwhile of yourself, the easier the transition to real life will be.

RULE 10: Television is not real life
“In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.” This applies to more than just an episode of friends. Life seems a lot easier on TV than it is in real life. Sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many people expect to sleep in every morning and still be able to afford that dream holiday.

RULE 11: Be Nice to Nerds
“Chances are you’ll end up working for one.” Laugh all you want, but he showed that this is a very real possibility. That book worm you keep picking on for choosing the library over a twerk session could end up being your boss in the future, so be nice.

Should Africa produce its own smartphones?

Smartphone manufacturing is one of the most competitive consumer segments.  In the last decade, innovation has upped levels of functionality and complexity in mobile devices and, with that, comes a hefty price.

A number of smartphone manufacturers produce these devices for emerging markets, but do African-born companies have what it takes to compete with leading brands in terms of market share and available technology? And can this be done while also keeping costs down?

Earlier this month Seemahale Telecoms and CZ Electronics entered into an agreement to manufacture smartphones and tablets in South Africa. As far as Seemahale CEO Thabo Lehlokoe is aware this will be a first in Africa. “It’s not right that out of a billion or more phones in Africa, none are made or assembled in Africa. Some are designed here, but they’re then made in China,” he said.

The 100% black-owned company will manufacture a 5-inch smartphone and a 10.1-inch tablet. While the printed circuit boards used in the production of the locally-made smartphone will be imported, everything else will be done locally, including the assembly of components such as chips and wiring, housing production and the printing of user manuals.

Africa is the second largest mobile phone market in the world, and according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), shipments of smartphones in Africa went up 21% in the second quarter of 2013, with smartphones now accounting for 18% of the overall mobile phone market.

With so many consumers ready to purchase smartphones or upgrade their current feature phones to newer models, the question of whether or not Africa is ready to satisfy the market is relevant. Put simply, why are there not more locally-manufactured smartphones on the continent?

It could be down to a number of factors, most importantly price and technology. Ensuring the latest technology in a device is a costly business and many companies simply do not have the capital to fund high-end devices.

The smartphone from Seemahale Telecoms and CZ Electronics is expected to make use of a 960×540-pixel LCD capacitive-touch screen, feature 4GB of storage, while running on a dual-core 1,5GHz processor powered by a 2 250mAh battery – hardly cutting-edge technology some may argue, but it does break down the price barrier.

Nigeria’s Phone and Allied Product Dealer Association (PAPDAN) also recently announced that they would soon be launching two new phones, made exclusively in the Country, which was a result of 20 Nigerian investors pooling resources together to develop mobile devices that cater to the local population.

While the company has yet to release specifications for their iQ and MaxTel devices, it is expected that the specifications will be similar to Seemahale’s device – at a cost of around $100.

However it is not only individuals, innovators or entrepreneurs who want to bring cheaper smartphones to the Africa market. International company Intel released the Yolo smartphone with Kenya mobile operator Safaricom earlier this year and it has some rather impressive specifications.

It makes use of an Intel Atom processor Z2420 with Intel Hyper-Threading Technology, has the ability to capture full HD video or capture up to seven pictures per second—in 5-megapixel quality and has a built-in FM radio with a 3.5-inch touch screen display.

Chinese manufacturer Huawei launched the Ideos X1 smartphone into the Kenyan market a number of years ago, one of the first mainstream devices to break through the psychological price barrier of $100.

Samsung, who currently has 52% market share in Africa, launched the Galaxy Pocket in several markets and consumers will be getting the familiar Samsung experience in a stripped-down version of the popular Galaxy family of smartphones – and retails for around $118.

Moving into a slightly higher cost bracket, Microsoft partnered with Huawei in the beginning of the year to produce the Huawei Windows Phone, as part of Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative. The Huawei 4Afrika Windows Phone will retail for approximately $150 and will initially be sold in seven countries.

With at least four international manufacturers actively developing and releasing smartphone for Africa, is it such a good idea for local companies to try to compete with the bigger players? Large companies have an established distribution footprint, have the capital and technology for Research and Development and have the ability to enter new markets very quickly.

But there is one thing that brands such as Samsung, Huawei and Microsoft have over independent smartphone manufacturers which could seriously scupper their plans – that is customer brand loyalty.

“Africans are generally quite conscious of brand, quality and image. We are being very clear that we are not going to be building something cheap for this market. What we want to do is deliver real quality innovation at an affordable price. Compared to some smartphones that cost $600 here, this is very affordable,” said Fernando de Sousa, the general manager for Microsoft Africa.

Independent investor, innovators and local manufacturers might have the best intentions when aiming to develop a smartphone (or even a tablet) for the African continent, but as long as major players are already investing heavily in Africa, they will have an uphill battle to find traction in a very crowded and highly-competitive market.

“The African smartphone space is wide open for whichever device manufacturer best executes its affordable smartphone strategy. Only time will tell, but the battle is sure to be fierce and likely profitable,” wrote The Next Web.

Africa’s ICT stakeholders heading to Rwanda

Rwanda will host the Transform Africa 2013 Summit from the 28 to 31 October 2013. This pan African ICT and ICT for development event bring together more than one thousand participants from Africa and beyond representing various sectors including governments, business and the youth to discuss the future of broadband in Africa.

The Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana said that the summit is a prime opportunity for leaders in both public and private sectors to explore ways that next generation technology can drive social and economic transformation across the African continent.

“At Transform Africa, discussion will focus on how African countries can maximise the opportunities of the Digital Economy, harnessing its power to drive innovation, deliver services, as well as create jobs for young people,”  Minister Nsengimana said.

Transform Africa will also see the launch of a high-speed (4G LTE) broadband network, established through an agreement of the Government of Rwanda and KT Corporation (NYSE: KT), South Korea’s largest telecommunications provider. This network will cover 95 per cent of the population within three years.

This rapid deployment of high-speed broadband capability in Rwanda will accelerate development of the country’s ICT sector, create jobs, as well as help facilitate social and economic progress. Based on recent reports published by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), 95 per cent broadband penetration will translate into a 10 to 13 per cent boost in GDP growth for Rwanda.

“Once infrastructure is in place, it is paramount that we all play our part in driving investments in content development and service delivery,” said Amb. Valentine Rugwabiza, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board.

The Summit, co-organised by the Government of Rwanda and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) will feature five key events including the Leaders’ Summit, the Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Extravaganza, Smart Africa Days an international tech exhibition and the Continental Awards.

10 African business leaders you need to follow on Twitter

Local and international media have focused this week on what has been described as ‘mounting losses’ for the online messaging service Twitter ahead of its debut on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

According to a regulatory filing this week Twitter lost in the region of $65 million during the quarter ending September. News surrounding the Twitter IPO has re-emphasized its significance as a communication platform.

IBNLive reported that by end September Twitter had 232 million active users. Closer to Africa and, according to the SA Social Media Landscape 2014 research study released by World Wide Worx and Fuseware, Twitter has 5,5 million users in South Africa – up from a previous figure of 2,4 million and representing 129% growth in 12 months.

With current global attention on another Tech IPO, ITNewsAfrica takes a closer look at the profiles of some of Africa’s most prominent business leaders and their levels of activity on Twitter.

1. Michael Jordaan (South Africa)  @MichaelJordaan 8, 644 tweets, 35, 044 followers
Michael Jordaan, the outgoing CEO of South African bank FNB has been appointed Chairman of the Board of mobile messaging company, Mxit. Jordaan had been instrumental to implementing innovative changes at FNB. According to the company, Jordaan will not be receiving a monthly remuneration just yet, but will be issued shares in the company instead. His tweets are both personal and professional, and judging by the frequency, he is very active on Twitter.

2.Bob Collymore (Kenya) @bobcollymore 4, 970 tweets, 174, 027 followers
Bob Collymore has served as CEO of Safaricom since 2010. The company was established in 1997 as a fully owned subsidiary of Telkom Kenya (until 2000) and is now the largest mobile service provider in Kenya. Safaricom has a staff complement of over 1500 employees, and at the end of 2012, posted revenues of $1.2-billion. He actively re-tweets and features both personal and professional posts.

3. Naguib Sawiris (Egypt) @NaguibSawiris   3,494 tweets,  1,064,229 followers
Born June 15, 1954, Egyptian businessman and politician Naguib Sawiris’ reported net worth is said to be in the region of $2.5 billion. He was executive chairman of the telecommunications companies Wind Telecom and Orascom Telecom Holding (OTH) before turning to politics in May 2011. Orascom Telecom Holdings has 20,000 employees and manages 11 GSM operators around the world. Based on his Twitter profile, Sawiris is proactive with responses to tweets and actively uses the forum.

4. Tony O. Elumelu (Nigeria) @TonyOElumelu 1614 tweets, 41,338 followers
Founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation and Chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited, Nigerian economist, investor and philanthropist Tony Elumelu is acknowledged to be one of the continent’s most influential entrepreneurs. On his official website Elumelu speaks of ‘Africapitalism’ or the commitment of the private sector towards economic transformation in Africa. He regularly tweets and uses the forum to discuss pertinent economic and business issues.

5.Reginald Mengi (Tanzania) @regmengi 787 tweets,  26, 629 followers
Reginald Mengi is an industrialist and media entrepreneur. He is the owner and Executive Chairman of Tanzania-based IPP Limited, a privately-owned company focused on media, communications and print. The Group, including all affiliated businesses, is said to be amongst the largest privately owned business in Tanzania. He regularly tweets and retweets.

6. Elon Musk (South Africa) @elonmusk  779 tweets,  415, 597 followers
South African born founder of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), Elon Musk has proven what can be achieved when innovation and creativity are expertly blended. The company’s SpaceX Dragon recently successfully completed its first commercial cargo mission to the International Space Station. A look at his profile shows that Musk is proactive with Twitter and focuses on using the forum to inform and update markets about his work.

 7. Dr. Hamadoun Toure’ (Mali) @ITUSecGen 597 tweets , 3,552 followers
The Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) was re-elected for a second four-year term in October 2010. He is widely acknowledged for placing emphasis on ICT as a driver of social and economic development and has previously served as Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) from 1998 – 2006. Although not his personal Twitter page, but that of his office, the profile has many followers and, as one would expect, focuses on a range of issues that affect telecommunications in Africa.

8. Donald Kaberuka (Rwanda) @DonaldKaberuka 361 tweets,  5,365 followers
The name Donald Kaberuka is immediately recognised within economic and financial circles. Kaberuka is an economist from Rwanda and the current president of the African Development Bank. According to his biography on the African Development Bank Group, Kaberuka was re-elected in 2010 to serve a second five-year term. His career has been established in banking, international trade & development, as well as government service.

9. Jason Njoku (Nigeria) @JasonNjoku 324 tweets,  1,300 followers
Jason Njoku may not be as wealthy as the other business leaders on this list, but he is widely acknowledged for bringing Nigerian entertainment to the world, via the Net. Through iROKO Partners, Njoku has helped to raise the profile of ‘Nollywood’ and Afrobeats within the international film and performing arts industry. iROKO Partners was launched in December 2010 and has built a global audience of over 6 million unique users from 178 countries. Through his Twitter account, he has initiated and actively contributed to several conversations about issues that impact industry.

10. Strive Masiyiwa (Zimbabwe) @StriveMasiyiwa 95 tweets,   6,828 followers
Born in Zimbabwe, Masiyiwa is the founder of telecommunications services Group, Econet Wireless. Masiyiwa successfully fought a landmark 5 year legal battle in Zimbabwe beginning in 1998, which effectively ended the state’s monopoly in the country’s telecommunications sector. The company provides services related to mobile cellular telephony, fixed networks, enterprise networks, fibre optic cables and satellite services. One notices a number of tweets about business and social issues.


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