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Swypatune, New App to Drive Innovation



Swype Global Limited has launched an app, Swypatune to drive innovation in Nigeria, according to Peter Atorough, chief executive, Swype Global.


Atorough said that the launch of the solution was to give more opportunities to youths to showcase their talents and creativity.


Atorough, while speaking at the event in Lagos, said the app would help eradicate the barriers hindering youths in the creative world and in the talent industry.


“With swypatune, you can sit in the comfort of your home and upload your demo tape, register your songs and send it over to us. The app then selects the top 100 songs where we will drop 10 songs every week and those who are eliminated, we will feature them on a TV show to give them a second chance to create a fan base for them,” he said.


He added: “At the tenth week, we will get 10 contestants to perform on TV where people swype to vote for their favourite contestant. The winner goes home with N10 million with a full recording deal and also to promote their song.”


According to him, over $180,000 was spent to develop the app while also seeking more strategic partnership with relevant stakeholders who are poised to embrace the vision of leveraging digital technology, primarily focused on eliminating the barriers impeding the growth of upcoming artistes in Nigeria.


Earlier, Frank Fotso, co-founder of Swype Global Limited, said through swypeglobal, the company would be employing over a 100 people with the company and its operations in Nigeria, maintaining the app is going to create more artiste from Africa.


“Since we are digitalising it, so many people are going to know about our culture, our musicians and how talented they are.


“Swypeglobal aims to digitalise a lot of things in Africa, because this is one of the way to address certain issues we face in Africa. We want to use digital to give back to the people,” he said.


He described swypatune as a powerful 360-degree viral-focused and AI-driven technology that would generate downloads from an estimated ten million users in year one with a daily interaction rate of around one million hits, thereby creating significant economic and social returns.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Mastercard Opens Cyber Research Center



Mastercard has opened a Global Intelligence and Cyber Centre in Vancouver, Canada, allowing it to research digital and cyber security, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, according to a company press release.

Mastercard invested $510 million into the facility, which is being developed with help from the Canadian government’s Strategic Innovation Fund. Mastercard will use the center to develop cyber solutions for the global payments ecosystem.

“Ensuring payments are both convenient and secure has always been a top priority for Mastercard,” Ajay Banga, president and CEO at Mastercard, said in the release. “The Vancouver centre will help us meet the growing demand for technology solutions to reduce the cost of cyber attacks, enable today’s connected devices to become tomorrow’s secure payment devices and address the growing vulnerabilities associated with the Internet of Things.”

The centre is located in the city’s Old Restored Stock Exchange building, which is home to the NuData security team and members of Mastercard’s Research & Development, Operations & Technology and Cyber & Intelligence divisions.

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Microsoft Exposes 250m Customer Records



Over the New Year, software giant Microsoft exposed nearly 250 million customer service and support (CSS) records on the Web.

This is according to UK-based firm Comparitech, which says the records contained logs of conversations between Microsoft support agents and customers from all over the world, spanning a 14-year period from 2005 to December 2019.

All of the data was left accessible to anyone with a Web browser, with no password or other authentication needed, the firm says.

The Comparitech security research team led by Bob Diachenko uncovered five Elasticsearch servers, each of which contained an apparently identical set of the 250 million records.

Diachenko immediately notified Microsoft upon discovering the exposed data, and Microsoft took swift action to secure it.

“We’re thankful to Bob Diachenko for working closely with us so that we were able to quickly fix this misconfiguration, analyse data and notify customers as appropriate,” says Eric Doerr, general manager of Microsoft.

Timeline of the exposure

Comparitech says in total, the data was exposed for about two days before it alerted Microsoft and the records were secured.

–    28 December 2019: The databases were indexed by search engine BinaryEdge.

–    29 December 2019: Diachenko discovered the databases and immediately notified Microsoft.

–   30 and 31 December 2019: Microsoft secured the servers and data. Diachenko and Microsoft continued the investigation and remediation process.

–   21 January 2020: Microsoft disclosed additional details about the exposure as a result of the investigation.

“I immediately reported this to Microsoft and within 24 hours all servers were secured,” Diachenko says.

“I applaud the Microsoft support team for responsiveness and quick turnaround on this despite [it being] New Year’s Eve. We do not know if any other unauthorised parties accessed the database during that time.”

Diachenko explains that most of the personally identifiable information – e-mail aliases, contract numbers and payment information – was redacted.

However, he points out that many records contained plain text data, including but not limited to customer e-mail addresses, IP addresses, locations, descriptions of CSS claims and cases, Microsoft support agent e-mails, case numbers, resolutions and internal notes marked as “confidential”.

Comparitech notes that even though most personally identifiable information was redacted from the records, the dangers of this exposure should not be underestimated.

The data could be valuable to tech support scammers, in particular, it says.

“Tech support scams entail a scammer contacting users and pretending to be a Microsoft support representative. These types of scams are quite prevalent, and even when scammers don’t have any personal information about their targets, they often impersonate Microsoft staff. Microsoft Windows is, after all, the most popular operating system in the world,” the firm says.

It points out that with detailed logs and case information in hand, scammers stand a better chance of succeeding against their targets.

“If scammers obtained the data before it was secured, they could exploit it by impersonating a real Microsoft employee and referring to a real case number. From there, they could phish for sensitive information or hijack user devices.

“Microsoft customers and Windows users should be on the lookout for such scams via phone and e-mail. Remember that Microsoft never proactively reaches out to users to solve their tech problems – users must approach Microsoft for help first. Microsoft employees will not ask for your password or request that you install remote desktop applications like TeamViewer. These are common tactics among tech scammers,” Comparitech says.

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Bharti Airtel, Western Union, Partner on Real-time Bank Transfers to India, African Mobile Wallets



Western Union has teamed up with Bharti Airtel Ltd. to allow customers to send real-time payments directly to bank accounts in India as well as real-time fund transfers to mobile wallets in 14 African countries.

Users may transfer funds via Western Union to millions of accounts at Airtel Payments Bank, the banking subsidiary of Bharti Airtel, or direct funds through Airtel Africa, which has 15 million mobile wallet customers across the continent.

“The future of money transfer is about customer choice — allowing them to move money whenever, however and wherever they want,” Hikmet Ersek, president of Western Union, told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, according to a company release.

“Our platform cuts through the complexities of cross-border money movement and payments so millions of customers can access their funds in real time in a manner that suits their local infrastructure and preferences.”

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