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IBM Promotes Safe & Secured Computing, Releases Advanced Security Software Application



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The era of complex, disaster-prone computing might just be over, or perhaps, around the corner. These days, computing is as much about people (the soft issues) as it is about devices (hard issues).

Our personal habits, our income levels and resources, our education of certain things (or ignorance, as the case may be), our work place practices, our social norms and the way we live and engage with the larger society generally all help to define how we make use of the available ‘software’ and ‘hardware’ tools in the environment.
The changing global demographic is also a key factor. In a few years, “Generation Y” (those born beginning in the mid-1970s) will make up half of the workforce worldwide.

This population is marked by an increased familiarity and reliance on communications, media and digital technologies — they came of age in a connected world.

In a measured response to this trend, scientists and inventors at IBM began to actively promote the concept of BYOD (bring your own device) many years ago.

BYOD has enormous implications on work place productivity, how companies support alternate work schedules and preferences and even who they are able to recruit.

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous economy, the dynamic of how people live and work is also changing, albeit slowly. Work used to be a “place”.

Now, work can be any place and everywhere, and the tools to enable these new work practices are increasingly available.

New technology is helping to attenuate some of the key infrastructure issues and challenges facing the country, and companies operating in Nigeria will have to dump their analogue era habits and procedures to embrace this emergent work-life ethic if they are desirous of making full use of employee skills and capabilities. 

In this era of social and business networks, connectivity and content creation and consumption is only a click or two away.

The integrity of electronic or digital information and raw data, encompassing data generation, protection and security, is increasingly a major headache for device makers and users alike.

As data consumption habits change – with more and more individuals developing content on mobile devices, and communicating within local and international boundaries with these devices – the question, “how safe and secure is your software environment / infrastructure?” becomes very pertinent. 

According to Gartner, a global technology research consultancy, more than 45.6 billion mobile applications were downloaded in 2012.

As the rate of application use on mobile devices increases, securing smartphones and other endpoint devices is a top priority for organizations and Chief Information Security Officers.

The proliferation of consumer and enterprise mobile applications also adds to the dilemma. Organizations cannot always control or restrict the applications installed on user devices, so they must test how applications send and save data.

One of the technology firms at the forefront of solving and embracing this new way of work is IBM, the 101 year old company based in Armonk, New York, USA. IBM recently announced the release of its new security software – the IBM AppScan Source 8.7 for iOS – that can automatically identify where data enters and leaves a mobile application, helping to prevent mobile data leakage. 

This new software release builds on IBM’s MobileFirst initiative and expands the company’s strategy to provide organizations with a mobile platform that spans application development, integration, security and management.

Consequently, companies and internet software developers globally can better protect each mobile application release in the face of constant updates. IBM previously announced IBM AppScan for applications running on the Android platform.

Taiwo Otiti, IBM’s country general manager for West Africa said the IBM AppScan Source 8.7 for iOS will be available in markets globally as from March 25..

Otiti acknowledged that for many companies, the pace of mobile application releases and updates can be overwhelming as they try to maintain strict security guidelines and policies. “IBM AppScan Source 8.7 for iOS provides the ability to improve security quality without sacrificing time-to-market of mobile application projects.”

As always with IBM, business-friendly innovations like this new security software often begin life incubating as prototypes and projects in any or several of IBM’s 12 labs located around the world. IBM products therefore undergo rigorous design, development and testing cycles by IBMers beginning with its scientists, engineers, staff and business partners.

This culture of scientific rigor and excellence is one of the reasons IBM has remained at the apex of innovation for decades.

IBM developed its own mobile apps store — WhirlWind — created exclusively for IBMers, many years ago.

WhirlWind currently supports Apple iOS, Google Android and Blackberry devices. It is designed to help employees unleash the power and potential of their smartphones as a productivity tool. The store currently offers more than 500 apps and recently passed the 40,000 download mark.

At the moment, some 120,000 employees access the IBM network through mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops).

Of those, 80,000 are using devices they have purchased on their own, while the remaining 40,000 employees are using company issued devices.

IBM is always mindful of security and how it needs to stay ahead of malware and other threats to its data and that of its clients.

The company has tools in place to protect its data from being compromised, and is implementing other tools on an ongoing basis, realizing that this will always be a moving target.

Organizations need to be able to seize the business potential that mobility promises, said Caleb Barlow, IBM’s director of Application, Data and Mobile Security. He therefore counsels firms to incorporate security into their infrastructure and solutions from the design, development and testing phases rather than leaving security to become an afterthought.

Employees play a significant role in security by employing common sense practices and avoiding risky sites or untrusted networks. IBM has outlined advised practices in its “Secure Computing Guidelines,” similar to what it has in place for social computing and business conduct in general.

The bottom line is IBM will not compromise it network. That means that some devices and applications will be enabled inside of IBM more quickly than others, and some may never be enabled at all. 

Nigerian firms and their employees would do well to a take a cue from this global technology company.

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Davido Launches Chatter, Own Social Media App



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David Adeleke, Nigerian musician well known as Davido, has launched Chatter, a new social media application.

Davido Launches Chatter, Own Social Media App

Chatter is a social audiovisual utility platform designed to help amplify the voice of content creators and connect them with a vibrant community.

However, the app’s usage goes beyond content creators; business-minded individuals, as well as people looking to connect, have a place on it.

The musician used his social media accounts to announce the app’s release.

He gave a brief history of the development of the software and its features with his friend.

The well-known musician from Nigeria stated that he and Sir Banko, his close friend  are the owners of the app.

The music icon posted information about Chatter, a social audiovisual utility platform that connects content creators to a lively community and helps them magnify their voices.

In the past eight months, Davido has undertaken three internet projects.

Recall that the musician introduced his cryptocurrency.

However, the $DAVIDO coin fell a few days after it launched, prompting some cryptocurrency fans to call it a scam and a rug-pull.



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Holiday Shopping Season to Look Different for Retailers this Year as Shoppers Take on more Debt



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By Zuko Mdwaba, Salesforce Area Vice President & Africa Leader

New Salesforce research shows that 37% of indebted consumers are using their credit cards more today than they were a year ago, while 32% report using alternative credit services like “buy now, pay later” more frequently. What’s more, 43% of consumers are carrying more debt compared to 2023. And this isn’t unique to one income bracket — consumers across all levels are tapping into their credit lines more today than they were last year.

Zuko Mdwaba

Zuko Mdwaba

But this increased reliance on credit isn’t due to consumers buying more. According to the Salesforce Shopping Index, online order volumes have been falling since 2022 and decreased by 2% year over year in the first quarter of this year. When they do buy, they’re trading down, buying discounted merchandise, and seeking private labels.

Holiday shopping prediction #1: Chinese shopping apps will take market share

As consumers face uncertainty around rising prices, they’re changing shopping habits. Long gone are the pandemic times when the fastest shipping time could win over new business. Now it comes down to price.

Shoppers are looking for the best deal. Two-thirds of global shoppers report that prices dictate where they chose to shop, with less than one-third prioritising quality of the goods. Temu is the clear winner, with 43% of Western shoppers purchasing on this platform within the last six months. But for Gen Zers, Shein is the top destination, with half of this group placing an order recently.

This holiday season, we predict that Chinese shopping applications will capture $160 billion in global ecommerce market share outside of China.

Holiday shopping prediction #2: Middle-mile shipping puts strain on margins

The Houthi attacks in the Red Sea and rising crude oil prices are driving up container costs worldwide, putting strain on the middle-mile infrastructure for the first half of the year. Additionally, last-mile challenges are also stacking up thanks to events like the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and rising delivery costs – stalling delivery times and adding expenses for retailers.

But retailers shouldn’t push the shipping expenses back on shoppers. Free shipping offers are a top-three reason why consumers choose to make a purchase from a particular brand or retailer. Over half of shoppers say they are more likely to purchase online than in store if delivery is free.

This holiday season we predict brands and retailers will spend an extra $197B in middle-mile expenses, increasing 97% over last year.

Holiday shopping prediction #3: Shoppers embrace AI to search for the perfect gift

Last holiday season, 17% of online purchases were influenced by AI – both predictive and generative. That totalled a whopping $199M of onlines sales worldwide in November and December. This year, consumers will increasingly leverage AI – knowingly or not – to search for the right gift at the right price. In fact, 53% of shoppers surveyed said they are interested in using generative AI for inspiring the perfect present. As retailers increasingly embed AI into search experiences, we predict search will drive a nearly 3x better conversion rate compared to traffic not engaging with site search.

Holiday shopping prediction #4: Black Friday becomes Cyber Friday

Over the years, as online shopping grew in popularity and consumers could shop from anywhere, holiday shopping started earlier and earlier in the month of November. Last year, Black Friday gained back 4% of online holiday sales, establishing itself as the biggest online shopping day of the year.

We’re expecting the same of the upcoming holiday shopping season. Two-thirds of shoppers say they’re holding out on making big purchases until Cyber Week, anticipating better deals. The big news is that Black Friday is going to be the biggest day for digital. Salesforce research predicts online sales will take 7% of in store sales on Black Friday.

Holiday shopping prediction #5: Retailers tap loyal shoppers to avoid skyrocketing digital marketing costs

Customer acquisition continues to be costly for retailers. In the face of a busy election cycles, and as Chinese companies buy up advertising inventory, digital marketing costs continue to get more expensive, and opportunities to get in front of the right audience grow scarce. This means that brands and retailers have to better engage their existing customer base amid this tug of war over digital advertising space.

But there are other opportunities. Shoppers are doubling down on loyalty. According to our Salesforce Shopping Index, the rate of repeat buyers in the first quarter increased by 8% over the last two years. And shoppers are prioritising brands and retailers that offer loyalty programmes. Our research shows 63% of shoppers are making more purchases from stores where they can earn and redeem loyalty points. This holiday season, we predict that 2 out of 5 holiday purchases will be made by a loyal repeat buyer.

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APTS Cyber-Attacks Target African Governments, Others



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Kaspersky, a global cybersecurity firm, has said that it is keeping a close eye on advanced persistent threats (APTs) and nine active threat actors targeting African organisations.

APTS Cyber-Attacks Target African Governments, Others

Kaspersky researchers’ intelligence has identified government, energy, and telecommunications as the primary targets in African countries.

APT groups are long-term, targeted cyber-attacks in which intruders obtain network access and go undiscovered for a lengthy period of time. APT attacks are typically initiated to steal extremely sensitive data.

These APT organisations are frequently driven by espionage, financial gain, or, in some cases, hacktivism.

According to Kaspersky intelligence, MuddyWater, FruityArmor, and Sidewinder are among the region’s most prominent groups.

Kaspersky, which says it protects over a billion devices worldwide from cyberattacks, collaborates with law enforcement and offers intelligence to help them track down these sophisticated hackers.

These threat actors, according to the company, use a variety of methods to infiltrate their targets in the region.

Social engineering is a typical method employed on social media or via email, such as placing a bogus job advertisement for software developers.

According to Amin Hasbini, head of Kaspersky’s global research and analysis team for the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa, said it is critical to keep up with these sophisticated syndicates and stop corporate espionage.

“The current geopolitical climate is a hotbed for APT activity, therefore, investigating these attacks and gaining intelligence on their movement is vital for security teams and corporations in Africa. Our research allows businesses and government entities to determine the significance of the threat posed, understand the attackers’ next move and accordingly be able to take the appropriate security steps to protect themselves,” he said.




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