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6 Things Your Car Insurance Company Won’t Tell You Over The Phone

Car insurance.
Car insurance. Song_about_summer / Shutterstock.com

Car Insurance… one of the most hated expenses in South Africa (other than medical aid of course)! That debit order that comes off every month that we dread seeing but something that we can’t live without in South Africa.

The South African roads are getting more and more dangerous.

We saw a staggering 17% increase in road crashes from early December 2015 to 2016.

This results in an increased need for car insurance but ultimately equates to this: Increase in crashes + Increased car insurance claims = higher car insurance premiums for all of us.

6 Tips When Insuring Your Car

1. Claims Claims Claims!:

Before choosing an insurance provider check what the claims process is, there are some companies that have very efficient processes using apps etc. Also, make sure you are aware of how to claim. eg: if you wait too long your claim could be rejected.

2. Premiums that are too good to be true:

Be wary of premiums that are “cheap”, more often than not you are sacrificing in another area for example high excess!

3. High Excess:

Don’t sign for an unreasonably high excess that you can’t afford to lower your premiums. If you can’t afford that excess when it comes to claims stage there was no use in paying for the car insurance in the first place. A couple of extra bucks could save you from a world of hurt.

4. Vehicle Details Check:

Be sure to check that your vehicle details on your policy document that is sent to you are correct. If the details are wrong, your insurance company won’t pay out your claims.

5. Make sure that your broker or insurance company is registered at the FSP:

The company will have an FSP number that you can use to check at the Financial Services Board (FSB).

6. Some insurance schemes offer partial or savings type cover that is super limited:

It’s recommended to cover the full retail value if your car especially if your car is financed.

Why Update My Insurer?

Car Insurance accident.
Car Insurance accident. Shutterstock.com / Rawpixel.com

Many of us don’t know this but if something “big” in your life changes, not only do we need to update your facebook followers but we actually have to update our insurance company or broker!

Why should we tell them you ask? Because if we don’t tell them that we have moved homes and someone breaks into our car at the new house…they will reject our claim.

Here are some big events we need to tell our insurance providers about:

  • Moving to a new home: this is a must because the location that your car is parked at has now changed.
  • Getting hitched: your policy may not cover your new husband or wife and if your policy doesn’t specify another driver they won’t pay if your partner is in an accident with your car. ALSO, your premium may go down because insurers see married people as less risky.
  • Got a new job: Wonderful! but be sure to tell your insurance company because it matters where your car is actually parked during most of the day and where your policy document says your car is parked.

Underground Wi-Fi Improves Productivity At Anglo American’s Coal Mines

Wi-Fi. Shutterstock.com /NicoElNino

Mining group Anglo American invest R10 million in underground Wi-Fi infrastructure at its coal mines in South Africa.

Installing Wi-Fi underground is significantly more difficult than above ground. There are no cellphone towers underground, and signals are weakened and distorted by uneven surfaces, earthen walls and other obstacles in tunnels of different sizes.

However, the benefits will rapidly repay the initial R10 million investment, says Anglo American.

The introduction of underground Wi-Fi has improved productivity and working conditions for hundreds of miners at Anglo American’s coal mining operations in Mpumalanga by enabling two-way communications between miners working underground and staff on the surface.

Goedehoop Colliery recently became the coal division’s second operation to introduce intrinsically safe wireless communication infrastructure and smartphones at its 4 million tonne per annum Simunye Shaft.

Zibulo Colliery was the first Anglo American Coal South African mine to introduce the technology in 2016.

“We’re working in an environment where safety and productivity are paramount,” said Anglo American’s Edgar Simfukwe.

“The introduction of underground Wi-Fi is a game-changer. It allows our miners to communicate more easily, thereby making mines more productive. The main benefit is that breakdowns can be reported and resolved faster – in some cases, by contacting equipment manufacturers on the spot.”

“Not only that, employees can send photographs and video clips to aid troubleshooting,” said Simfukwe. “They’re also able to arrange for the immediate dispatch of spare parts, get work authorisations, and flag faults before they become major issues.”

Traditionally, coal mines use fixed underground telephones, which frequently require a long walk or drive to reach. This means employees often need to return to the surface to get a message to a colleague, report a problem or access critical information.

 Thembisile Masanabo PIT Instrumentation
Thembisile Masanabo PIT Instrumentation

With the new Wi-Fi and smartphones, miners can communicate instantly via voice calls or text messaging to and from the surface, and from one underground section to another.

Apart from resolving communication challenges, the Wi-Fi network also tracks key equipment through communication tags and allows for people to be located in the event of an emergency.

“Up to 750 people work in an area of around 20 square kilometres, so it’s important that we know where each of them are if an underground emergency occurs. Should an evacuation occur, we are able to determine from the control room whether anyone has been left behind, exactly who they are and their last known location,” said Simfukwe.

Get Big Discounts On Top Smartphone Brands

Smartphones. Shutterstock.com

As part of its latest flash sale, Gearbest is doling out discounts on top smartphones of up to 40%.


CUBOT Quest Phablet Rugged Smartphone 

Cubot Quest Lite is the world’s thinnest rugged phone, only 8.8mm.

It is an Android 9.0 phablet with quad-core CPU and IP68 waterproof.

Unlike other shockproof phones, Cubot Quest Lite is not only thin but also fashion-looking, the gorilla glass 5 makes it a perfect outdoor companion because of the dustproof and anti-scratch.

The phone is available for $119.99 and you get a 40% discount in the device’s original asking price of $198.49.

You can buy the Cubot phone here.

Cubot Quest Lite
Cubot Quest Lite

UMIDIGI One Pro 4G Phablet

The phone is available for $149.99 and you get a 26% discount in the device’s original asking price of $201.42.


The latest generation 5.9-inch 19:9 FullSurface display provides a sharp and full-of-life image with low power consumption.

The UMIDIGI One Pro is designed with a side fingerprint sensor on top of its power button. This new position allows you to unlock your device while keeping it in your palm in your natural holding position.

HUAWEI P30 Lite 4G Phablet

Stylish and streamlined; the HUAWEI P30 lite fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. The slim 3D curved glass design is crafted for easy grip and one-handed use.

Give your photos a boost with powerful AI scene recognition technology.

The HUAWEI P30 lite front camera can identify more than 8 categories in real-time while the rear camera can recognise 22 different categories. Settings like colour, lighting and contrast are automatically adjusted to produce dazzling photos.

HUAWEI P30 Lite 4G Phablet
HUAWEI P30 Lite 4G Phablet

The phone is available for $329.99 and you get a 21% discount in the device’s original asking price of $415.13. You can buy the device here.


#PleaseCallMeMovement Puts Pressure On Vodacom To Pay Nkosana Makate


The Please Call Me Movement, which wants Vodacom to pay the Please Call Me Inventor, continues to put pressure on the Vodafone-owned company to pay what is due to Nkosana Makate.

Makate developed the “Please Call Me” product in November 2000.

The activists descended on the Vodacom headquarters in Midrand, Johannesburg on Wednesday. They were protesting and blocked the entrance of the Vodacom headquarters.

The group continues to demand that Vodacom pays Makate.

TechFinancials was also informed that the #PleaseCallMeMovement delegates met with the Vodacom legal team, excluding its chief officer of Legal and Regulatory, Snakes Nyoka.

“We can confirm that about 20 people staged a protest on the Vodacom campus yesterday and that a meeting took place between protesters and Vodacom representatives,” a Vodacom spokesperson said in an email response.

Nkosana Makate, the inventor of Vodacom’s Please Call Me service
Nkosana Makate, the inventor of Vodacom’s Please Call Me service

In 2016, the Constitutional Court ruled that Vodacom must pay Makate as the inventor of the “Please Call Me” service, and that if negotiations failed, Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub must determine a “reasonable amount”, MoneyWeb reported at the time.

“Mr Makate has publicly rejected the Vodacom Group CEO’s determination on the quantum of compensation payable to him and he has declared that he will subject this determination to judicial review,” added the Vodacom spokesperson.

Vodacom said it is confident that it has acted ethically and complied in full with the Order of the Constitutional Court.

The battle has been drawn for more than 10 years and the settlement negotiations have still not yielded any positive results.

Shammeel Joosub, Vodacom CEO
Shammeel Joosub, Vodacom CEO. Image source: Future CEOs

Meanwhile, a group which funded Makate’s initial legal case against Vodacom is planning to launch an application to remove the arbitrator who is overseeing an important aspect of the case, according to the Sunday Times.

The group is known as Raining Men Trade.

The report states that the arbitration – which was set for June – will deal with Makate’s agreement with the group.

“We’re looking at long-haul litigation still. It will be long before we get to the arbitration,” said a Raining Men Trade representative.

There is a 2016 court order which states the funders are “entitled to half of Makate’s award”, the group told Sunday Times.

Advocate Andrew Mabena is the arbitrator in the matter of whether Makate’s “financiers” are entitled to a share of his Vodacom payout.

“There is nothing that can be offered to them,” said Makate, adding that there is no talk of settling with his funders.

For more read: Please Call Me Funders Seek Share Of ‘R49 Million’ Vodacom Payout and also: What Should Vodacom Pay “Please Call Me Inventor” Nkosana Makate?

How Cyptocurrency Scams Work?

Businessman. Shutterstock.com / View Apart

by Nir Kshetri

Millions of cryptocurrency investors have been scammed out of massive sums of real money. In 2018, losses from cryptocurrency-related crimes amounted to US$1.7 billion. The criminals use both old-fashioned and new-technology tactics to swindle their marks in schemes based on digital currencies exchanged through online databases called blockchains.

From researching blockchain, cryptocurrency and cybercrime, I can see that some cryptocurrency fraudsters rely on tried-and-true Ponzi schemes that use income from new participants to pay out returns to earlier investors.

Others use highly automatized and sophisticated processes, including automated software that interacts with Telegram, an internet-based instant-messaging system popular among people interested in cryptocurrencies. Even when a cryptocurrency plan is legitimate, fraudsters can still manipulate its price in the marketplace.

An even more basic question arises, though: How are unsuspecting investors attracted to cryptocurrency frauds in the first place?

Fast-talking swindlers

Some cryptocurrency fraudsters appeal to people’s greed, promising big returns. For example, an unknown group of entrepreneurs runs the scam bot iCenter, which is a Ponzi scheme for Bitcoin and Litecoin. It doesn’t provide information on investment strategies, but somehow promises investors 1.2% daily returns.

The iCenter scheme operates through a group chat on Telegram. It starts with a small group of scammers who are in on the racket. They get a referral code that they share with others, in blogs and on social media, hoping to get them to join the chat. Once there, the newcomers see encouraging and exciting messages from the original scammers. Some newcomers decide to invest, at which point they are assigned an individual bitcoin wallet, into which they can deposit bitcoins. They agree to wait some period of time – 99 or 120 days – to receive a significant return.

During that time, the newcomers often use social media to share their own referral codes with friends and contacts, bringing more people into the group chat and into the investment scheme. There’s no actual investment of the funds in any legitimate business. Instead, when new people join, the person who recruited them gets a percentage of the new funds, and the cycle continues, paying out to earlier participants from each round of newer investors.

Some members work especially hard to bring in new funds, posting tutorial videos and pictures of themselves holding large amounts of money as enticements to join the scam.

Lies and more lies

Some scammers go for straight-up deception. The founders of scam cryptocurrency OneCoin defrauded investors of $3.8 billion by convincing people their nonexistent cryptocurrency was real.

Other scams are based on impressing potential victims with jargon or claims of specialized knowledge. The Global Trading scammers claimed they took advantage of price differences on various cryptocurrency exchanges to profit from what is called arbitrage – simply buying cheaply and selling at higher prices. Really they just took investors’ money.

Global Trading used a bot on Telegram, too – investors could send a balance inquiry message and get a response with false information about how much was in their account, sometimes even seeing balances climb by 1% in an hour. With returns looking like that, who could blame people for sharing the scheme with their friends and family on social media?

Exploiting friends and family

Once a scheme has started, it stays alive – at least for a while – through social media. One person gets taken in by the promise of big returns on cryptocurrency investments and spreads the word to friends and family members.

Sometimes big names get involved. For instance, the kingpin behind GainBitcoin and other alleged scams in India convinced a number of Bollywood celebrities to promote his book, “Cryptocurrency for Beginners.” He even tried to make himself a bit of a celebrity, proclaiming himself a “cryptocurrency guru,” as he led efforts that cost investors between $769 million and $2 billion.

Not all the celebrities know they’re involved. In one blog post, iCenter featured a video that purported to be an endorsement by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, holding a sign featuring iCenter’s logo. Videos of Justin Timberlake and Christopher Walken were deceptively edited so they appeared to praise iCenter, too.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson does not actually endorse this cryptocurrency scam.

Fraudulent initial coin offerings

Another popular scam technique is called an “initial coin offering.” A potentially legitimate investment opportunity, an initial coin offering essentially is a way for a startup cryptocurrency company to raise money from its future users: In exchange for sending active cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum, customers are promised a discount on the new cryptocoins.

Many initial coin offerings have turned out to be scams, with organizers engaging in cunning plots, even renting fake offices and creating fancy-looking marketing materials. In 2017, a lot of hype and media coverage about cryptocurrencies fed a huge wave of initial coin offering fraud. In 2018, about 1,000 initial coin offering efforts collapsed, costing backers at least $100 million. Many of these projects had no original ideas – more than 15% of them had copied ideas from other cryptocurrency efforts, or even plagiarized supporting documentation.

Investors looking for returns in a new technology sector are still interested in blockchains and cryptocurrencies – but should beware that they are complex systems that are new even to those who are selling them. Newcomers and relative experts alike have fallen prey to scams.

In an environment like the current cryptocurrency market, potential investors should be very careful to research what they’re putting their money into and be sure to find out who is involved as well as what the actual plan is for making real money – without defrauding others.The Conversation

Nir Kshetri, Professor of Management, University of North Carolina – Greensboro

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

AI For Good: What We Need To Do, Together

Machine Learning.
Machine Learning. Phonlamai Photo / Shutterstock.com

by Malcolm Johnson

Artificial intelligence (AI) will transform our lives. The question often posed is: will it be for better or for worse?

At ITU, we are working hard with partners across the world to ensure the trusted, safe and inclusive development of AI technologies – and equitable access to their benefits.

That’s why we organize the annual AI for Good Global Summit, the leading United Nations summit on how to harness the power of AI to improve lives worldwide – and to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. In two weeks’ time, AI innovators and public and private-sector decision-makers from around the globe will gather at ITU’s headquarters in Geneva for the Summit.

Building digital trust with the G7 in Paris

So this week, I was thrilled to participate in a series of fruitful discussions on Building Digital Trust Together with Digital Ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) nations during the 2019 G7 Summit in Paris.

One of the main sessions was focused on “Strengthening international cooperation on a human-centric AI and its use against inequalities.”

It was a good opportunity to share how ITU strongly supports cross-sector collaboration, as exemplified in ITU’s membership comprising 193 governments as well as some 900 private sector companies, universities, and other international and regional organizations – a unique and distinctive feature of ITU reflecting the rapidly changing nature of today’s digital economy. This enables us to develop the technical standards and harmonise spectrum to help to ensure interoperability and reduced costs through economies of scale.

Because the marginalization of countries with low technological capabilities is a significant risk, building their capacity is everyone’s responsibility. This is a risk ITU recognizes and takes into account in all our work, including in our AI-related work.

I was able to share with them more about how ITU, as a specialized UN agency, is also a key partner in development, leveraging its activities and technology to reduce inequalities and deliver on the promise of the digital economy.

Our “Focus Group on AI and Health” created in partnership with WHO is a perfect example of how we can work together across sectors and borders to develop technical standards that improve and even save lives.

A moment of opportunity

ITU’s latest statistics show that more than half of the world’s population now uses the Internet for the first time in history. This is a moment of opportunity.

This was well recognized and I emphasized that we all need to bring our own specific competencies to the table, pool our resources and avoid duplication of effort as we seek to ensure that everyone, everywhere can benefit from the power of technology to improve their lives and livelihoods.

ITU’s priorities reflect G7’s priorities. So, on behalf of ITU, I was pleased to call on G7 countries to continue to play an active role in ITU’s efforts on AI and other technologies, so that together we can turn today’s digital revolution into a development revolution.

  • Malcolm Johnson is ITU Deputy Secretary-General
  • This article was originally published in ITU News, a service of the ITU, the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies.

South Africa May Block Online Porn

Porn neon sign
Porn neon sign. igorstevanovic / Shutterstock.com

The South African Law Reform Commission has approved the publication of its discussion paper on sexual offences (pornography and children) for comment.

As part of its provisional recommendations, the Commission paper proposes the blocking of online porn by ensuring that all devices (new and second hand) be issued or returned to a default setting that blocks inappropriate content, with an opt-in possibility depending on proof of age of the buyer/user as being 18 and older.

“Giving effect to this recommendation will serve to protect both the child and the provider, though regulations will be required to provide for effective implementation,” the discussion paper reads.

Vodacom and MTN networks both have parental protection facilities available, and blocking of handsets for ‘child pornography‘ and ‘adult content‘ can be effected after purchase and are not default settings.

This again provides for protection in the formal sense but to amount to substantive protection the requirement would be for the default setting to be a block against harmful content and for it to be lifted on the production of proof of age.

The Commission is an independent advisory statutory body established by the South African Law Reform Commission Act.

This discussion paper aims to identify gaps in the manner in which the law currently regulates and protects children from being exposed to pornography or from being used to create child sexual abuse material.

Its purpose is to serve as a basis for in-depth deliberation on the law reform needed to protect children and to test public opinion on the solutions identified by the Commission

The Commission provisionally recommends that the Department of Education partners with relevant stakeholders draft guidelines on the use and risks involved in using the Internet and that these guidelines be included in the national education curriculum.

Shocked man searching online for porn at the computer.
Shocked man searching online for porn at the computer. DavideAngelini / Shutterstock.com

“A specific section should be dedicated to the child‘s rights and responsibilities in respect of the child‘s and other children‘s sexuality and the consequences of creating, possessing and distributing explicit self-images.”

The Commission warns in the discussion paper that opportunities offered by the mass media to access a varied and vast amount of information, educational material and entertainment and to actively engage in remote communication using electronic tools do not come without risks.

“One of the risks that children face when engaging with the mass media and using electronic tools in South Africa is that they may intentionally seek or unintentionally be exposed to pornography or child pornography (described as child sexual abuse material in this discussion paper). This material may be illegal or may only be legal for adults.”

As part of the overarching investigation into the review of all sexual offences, this discussion paper seeks to review the legislative framework that currently applies to children in respect of pornography and child sexual abuse material within the larger framework of all statutory and common law sexual offences.

The secondary aim is to consider the need for law reform in relation to the legislative framework governing children and pornography and where necessary to make preliminary recommendations in this regard.

“The Commission provisionally recommends that legislation should comprehensively criminalise all acts of exposing children to pornography and content not suitable for children, in whatever manner, including through advertisement and enticement or by making use of misleading techniques,” it explains.

Some respondents submit that the law needs to be amended to put better controls in place in order to protect children from exposure to pornography on the internet.

Some respondents suggest that the solution to protecting children from exposure would be to make the default position that all pornography is unavailable on the internet. To access it adults would have to pay an extra fee or specifically subscribe to it.

The Commission invites comment on the discussion paper and the draft Bill which accompanies it. The comment may also be made on related issues of concern which have not been raised in the discussion paper.

The closing date for comment is 30 July 2019.

MTN Nigeria Gets A Nod To List On The Nigerian Stock Exchange

MTN logo
MTN logo

MTN Nigeria announced on Wednesday that it has received approval to list on the Premium Board of The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

The company said the listing is set to proceed on 16 May 2019.

It will be done by way of an introductory listing.

The listing by introduction means that the shares of existing MTN Nigeria shareholders will be listed without an additional public sale of shares.

From this point, all MTN Nigeria shareholders will be free to trade their shares on the NSE.

“It gives me great pleasure to confirm that the official listing via introduction of MTN’s shares on the NSE will take place on Thursday May 16,” Ferdi Moolman, CEO of MTN Nigeria said.

“We appreciate the continued support afforded us by the government, regulators and people of this great nation. In particular, I would like to thank the staff and management of MTN Nigeria who worked tirelessly to make this day possible.

“This is just the beginning, we still intend to pursue a future Public Offer giving more Nigerians greater access to the MTN opportunity.”

MTN Group CFO, Ralph Mupita said “As MTN Group we are very pleased that we are taking this first and important step towards increasing the local ownership of the company, and building the equity capital markets in Nigeria”

MTN Nigeria recently announced its earnings for the first quarter ended March 31, 2019 recording 13.4% growth in service revenue.

The company said this was driven by a 12.7% and 32.4% rise in voice and data revenue respectively and the addition of 2.1 million active mobile subscribers to the network.

The company announced Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) ofN150.4 billion and expanded EBITDA margins to 53.3% (44.2%, on an IAS 17 basis) due to growth in revenue and effective cost management.

Vodacom On The Prowl For Internet of Things Buys

Vodacom IoT
Vodacom IoT

Vodafone-controlled Vodacom is eyeing acquisitions in the Internet of Things (IoT) space.

The company valued at more than R211 billion on the JSE did not give any details on how big the size of the deals could be.

“Vodacom will continue to seek strategic acquisition opportunities to drive ongoing investment in the IoT sector and to become the digitalisation partner of choice for enterprise clients and customers,” Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub, said on Tuesday.

The company on Monday announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire a majority stake in IoT.nxt in a move that will significantly accelerate its IoT strategy and transform its dedicated IoT business unit.

Vodacom has identified IoT as a key strategic growth area for the group.

The IoT market is expected to reach R46 billion by 2026.

Vodacom currently has more than 4.5 million IoT connections on its network.

This latest acquisition will enable Vodacom to operate across the full IoT value chain and develop best-in-class solutions for clients across several industry verticals, the company said.

IoT.nxt develops world-class technology and is an industry-leading end-to-end IoT solutions provider with operations in the USA, Europe and South Africa.

“In addition to accelerating Vodacom’s Internet of Things strategy, our investment in IoT.nxt brings a number of advantages to Vodacom’s existing IoT capability, including class-leading platform technology,” Joosub said.

“For example, this will allow us to better orchestrate the information obtained from sensors and edge devices as well as enable us to further scale our IoT business across multiple verticals as we move up the value-chain.”

WhatsApp Hacked And Bugs In Intel Chips: What You Need To Know To Protect Yourself

WhatsApp says more than 1 billion use the app. Shutterstock/XanderS

by Robert Merkel

It’s been a day of high-profile security incidents.

First there was news the popular WhatsApp messenger app was hacked. Updated versions of WhatsApp have been released, which you should install if you’re one of the more than one billion people who use the app.

There was also news of several security flaws in the majority of Intel processors, found in many of the world’s desktop, laptop and server computers.

Software patches to prevent exploitation of these hardware flaws have been released by several vendors, including Microsoft. You should install security updates from vendors promptly, including these.

WhatsApp hack revealed

The WhatsApp news was revealed first by the Financial Times, which says the bug was used in an attempt to access content on the phone of a UK-based human rights lawyer.

Read more:
Becoming more like WhatsApp won’t solve Facebook’s woes – here’s why

The lawyer reported unusual activity on his phone to the Citizen Lab, an academic research centre that focuses on digital espionage. The centre then contacted WhatsApp, which had independently noted signs of some kind of hack and put in place preliminary preventative measures in its network infrastructure.

When asked by the Financial Times how many users were attacked using this vulnerability, a WhatsApp spokesperson said “a number in the dozens would not be inaccurate”.

Facebook, the corporate parent of WhatsApp, has issued a technical notice about the vulnerability, saying versions of WhatsApp for iOS, Android, Windows Phone (and the lesser-known Tizen platform used in Samsung smart watches) were affected.

Evading end-to-end encryption

Messages and calls on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted, which means they are practically invulnerable to being read while in transit.

The only way an attacker can gain access to the contents of WhatsApp messages and calls is at either end, on the sending or receiving device.

Unfortunately, in this case, by modifying the sequence of data sent to a phone to initiate a call, an attacker could take over the WhatsApp application running on the device.

This would cause it to do whatever the attacker wishes, which could include sending the unscrambled WhatsApp messages directly to the attacker.

While on its own the vulnerability does not appear to give the attackers full access to everything on a target phone, it could well be used in combination with other vulnerabilities to gain full access and control.

Suspicions fall on NSO Group

Unlike the Intel processor flaws, which were discovered by academic and commercial researchers and are not known to have been used for hacking to date, the WhatsApp security bug was discovered because of hacking activity.

The Financial Times attributes the hacking attempts using the bug to software developed by the NSO Group.

Facebook, while not naming NSO, told the Financial Times:

[…] the attack has all the hallmarks of a private company known to work with governments to deliver spyware that reportedly takes over the functions of mobile phone operating systems.

NSO Group is an Israel-based company that sells intelligence-gathering software – essentially, mobile phone spyware – to governments around the world.

Software sold by NSO Group has previously been implicated in attempts to spy on an Emirati human rights activist, Mexican journalists, and other civil society targets.

The UK human rights lawyer targeted using the WhatsApp bug was representing the Mexican journalists previously allegedly targeted using NSO Group software.

We’re not likely targets

While this particular bug is no longer a problem if you’ve updated WhatsApp, in general there is relatively little an average citizen targeted by this kind of spyware can do about it.

Make sure you WhatsApp app is up-to-date.
WhatsApp Android app/Screenshot

This genre of bug-exploiting spyware is highly unlikely to be used by anyone other than governments, and then only to target a relatively small number of people. But the lawyer in this latest case says he does not know who is behind his WhatsApp hack.

Sooner or later, the use of spyware is inevitably detected, and the bug used to install it is found and fixed. The more phones are attacked, the quicker this will occur.

In the Australian context, software bugs are not the only means available to law enforcement to access encrypted messaging.

Read more:
Why we need to fix encryption laws the tech sector says threaten Australian jobs

The controversial Access and Assistance legislation, approved late last year, contains provisions that can require software and hardware developers to provide assistance to law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access communications, including those secured with end-to-end encryption.

The use of this kind of spyware – sold to countries with dubious human rights credentials, and used to target activists, journalists and lawyers – is disturbing.

I have previously argued that the international trade in such powerful tools should be curtailed. But fortunately, as insidious as they are, their reach is limited and likely to remain so.The Conversation

Robert Merkel, Lecturer in Software Engineering, Monash University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.