VoIP hacking is not new. Like normal hacking, it’s been around since the inception of Voice over IP – largely because hacking into a VoIP system is exactly the same as hacking into any web-based network.
“Hacking has become incredibly sophisticated – it’s actually become an industry of its own,” says Jacques du Toit, MD of Vox Orion. “Every time a new product is developed that is based on Internet access, hackers find a way to commit fraud through it.” Of course, this means that Internet security protocols have become far more sophisticated as well, as companies seek to combat hackers.
VoIP hackers have one of two aims: they either want to piggy-back on a company’s VoIP line indefinitely, which means they need to blend in to avoid detection, or they want to get in and out as quickly as possible, making as much money along the way as possible.
“The two approaches are quite different,” says Du Toit. “In the first, calls will mimic the company’s natural calls. They will be the same length as average calls. No calls will be made after hours, and they will be to the same areas as the company calls. The second hacker is very different. Their aim is to get in and ring up incredibly high bills as quickly as possible. They aren’t trying to hide their tracks, so the emphasis is making lots of money, quickly.”
How? VoIP hackers resell phone calls. For example, they piggy back on a line and resell the open line at a cheaper rate. “For example, if a call to Cambodia costs R25 per minute, the hacker will sell the call for R15 per minute – the hacker makes their money, but the company that the line is stolen from pays the full R25 a minute – for calls they aren’t making,” explains Du Toit.
So how can companies protect themselves from spending thousands on calls they aren’t making? “First, choose your vendor carefully,” advises Du Toit. “Your vendor should have strong security protocols in place.” These include anti-hacking security on the hardware involved (routers and gateways) as well as the ability to maintain lines and spot unusual activity.
“Hackers look for open ports with no security,” says Du Toit. “If they find one, they simulate an extension and use the network for free. So, your service provider should be able to keep them out.” Du Toit also advises companies to ask their service provider what happens if they are hacked. “As long as the hacker got in through our system, and not an open port elsewhere on the company’s network, we will not make our clients pay for hacked calls,” says Du Toit.
The second security measure should be daily monitoring. “Hackers that are trying to blend in are much harder to spot, but the hackers who come in to make as much as possible as quickly as possible can be picked up through daily monitoring and shut down. It’s important for service providers to be aware of what is happening on their clients’ networks,” Du Toit concludes.
Great Bunch Of Entrepreneurs Make Top 10 In The Workspace/MiWay Competition
The top 10 in The Workspace/MiWay entrepreneur competition have been selected.
After an intense four-month process, the top 10 contenders in The Workspace/MiWay Entrepreneur competition have been notified that they’re through to the next round. These entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses to the judges, who will then whittle down the number of contenders to five, from which the winner will be chosen.
“There has been great excitement over the past four months. As every single new entry came in, we would clap our hands and cheer,” said Mari Schourie, CEO of The Workspace. It was a tough job judging all the entries to reach the top 20 submissions, she said, before having to find the top 10.
“We’ve had really strong entries submitted by people with good business knowledge,” said Schourie. “You can see the willingness to work hard and the great amount of effort they have put into their initiatives.”
Schourie said judges saw “wonderful ideas and fabulous business minds and quality people with big dreams shine through the entries”.
The top 10 are:
- Loyal 1
- Dwyka Mining Services
- Minatlou Trading 251
- Sindis Best for all
- Convergence Three
- Zinde Zinde
- Matla Risk Management
- Artsort Trading
- Iconic Talent Agency
- Nthedikgwadi Transport Services
Schourie said she wished she could tell President Cyril Ramaphosa, who supports the growth of small business as an economic driver, “the ideas and the passion that these business owners have is inspiring and should be focused on more”.
The prize on offer – worth over R350 000 – will help set-up the winning entrepreneur for a period of 12 months, giving them a boost to help build their business.
Morné Stoltz, Head of Business Insurance at MiWay, said the theme that ran throughout the entries was that entrepreneurs wanted to make a difference and contribute to positive change in South Africa. “Many of the submissions focused on technical and developmental fields,” he said.
“Entrepreneurs recognise gaps in the market and see the potential for growth. Getting into the top 10 was not at all easy.”
Stoltz said South Africa had a “great bunch of entrepreneurs” and that standing together to give them a platform to launch was an exciting opportunity. “To grow our economy we need to help with skills development and give whatever assistance we can,” he said.
Part of the finalists’ road to the top includes a skills development programme for the top 10 entrants ahead of their important date to pitch their business plans to the judges.
As Schourie pointed out, it is vital to encourage South African citizens to act on their dreams and passions because “it can be a great success; they just need make that leap”.
Dates to watch:
- 21 June: Top 10 skills development programme
- 3 July: Top 10 pitches
- 6 July: Top 5 announcement
- 20 July: Final five workshops
- 10 August: Final five pitches
- 13 September: Winner announced
Top 22 Start-ups Chosen For Final Selection Days – Startupbootcamp Africa
After receiving 1,004 applications from all over the world, the SBC team in conjunction with the programme’s corporate sponsors have narrowed the applicants down to 22 top-tier tech start-ups that will be invited to the Final Selection Days on July 11th and 12th at PwC’s headquarters in Cape Town.
SBC Africa received 1,004 total applications from 77 countries on 5 continents. The start-ups that applied were exceptionally impressive and have gained more traction in the market than the applicants for the 2017 cohort. The talent in Africa is phenomenal and the corporate sponsors and SBC team dedicated 2 weeks to narrow it down to the Top 22 to be invited to Final Selection Days.
“It’s been an intense process due to the exceptionally high calibre of start-ups applying to the programme from across the continent,” states Philip Kiracofe, co-founder and CEO of Startupbootcamp Africa. “From 1,004 applications we have managed to narrow down to 22 of the most creative teams tackling daunting African problems. One of the key differentiators for start-ups that participate in the SBC Accelerator is the opportunity to secure commercial contracts with our sponsors. In order to make it onto our Top 22, each start-up has been chosen by at least 2 sponsors for potential proof of concept projects. The 2018 cohort is already shaping up to be a milestone moment for Africa.”
Zachariah George, co-founder and Chief Investment Officer of Startupbootcamp Africa added, “The investment community across Africa is taking note of the significant traction and access to market that being an alumni of a global accelerator programme like ours provides. We are excited to further galvanize venture capital funding into tech startups through significant de-risking of business models and customer validation with our corporate partners globally.”
From the 22 teams that have been invited to the SBC Africa Final Selection Days, 10 will be selected to join the 2018 cohort. Over the span of the two Final Selection Days, the startups in attendance will have the opportunity to present their pitches to high-profile corporate sponsors, investors, thought leaders and industry experts and will have the chance to sit down with mentors and sponsors alike. At the end of Day Two, the Top 10 will be announced and will be welcomed to the Cape Town-based Accelerator that kicks off in August. During the 3-month period, they will have the opportunity to scale at an incredible pace and seal pilot and proof of concept deals with the corporate sponsors to the programme.
The SBC Africa Accelerator is anchored and endorsed by heavyweight corporate sponsors RCS, BNP Paribas Personal Finance, Nedbank, Old Mutual and PwC.
“We’ve seen an increase in the quality of start-ups applying to the programme. The awareness of the value of the programme has increased and the success of the first year of the bootcamp speaks for itself. More mature start-ups are also seeing the benefits of participating in Startupbootcamp Africa,” comments Stanley Gabriel, Head of Innovation at Old Mutual.
The Top 22 start-ups invited to the Final Selection Days come from 7 different countries. The numbers are as follows: 8 from Nigeria, 5 from South Africa, 3 from Uganda, 2 from the Ivory Coast, 2 from Kenya, 1 from Ghana and 1 from Ireland.
The names of the start-ups invited to Final Selection Days by country:
- Nigeria: Bankly Technologies, Biyabot, CredPal, FriendsVow, Kudimoney Bank, Medikal HMS, NebulaPay, and ZEEZZ Planet Solutions.
- South Africa: Brandbookalytics Big Data, ifileme, LÜLA, Prospa, and Akiba Digital
- Uganda: CoinPesa Ltd, RoundBob Uganda, and Swipe 2 Pay
- Ivory Coast: Digitech Group, and DISTRICASH
- Kenya: Kakbima, and MPost
- Ghana: Inclusive Financial Technologies
- Ireland: Pago Payments
It has been an incredible 3-month scouting journey for SBC Africa and now that the Top 22 have been announced, the Final Selection Days is the only hurdle left before the Accelerator officially kicks off on 13 August 2018.
There are high expectations for the Top 10 of 2018 and if the quality of the start-ups at this stage is any indication, 2018 is set to be a great success for the African tech and innovation ecosystem.
She Works Hard For Her Money – So Pay Her On Time
Sage research finds that female entrepreneurs suffer more negative effects from late payments than men. Charles Pittaway, Managing Director of Sage Pay, comments on the importance of equal pay for equal work.
Women fight inequality and discrimination every day. They fight for equal pay for equal work. They challenge gender stereotypes in their careers and personal lives. They question unfair social and political norms. They unify under passionate causes, evidenced recently by the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns.
With female business builders making up nearly 40% of the global workforce – and heading up 72% of micro-enterprises and 40% of small enterprises in South Africa – any kind of discrimination is unacceptable from a cultural and economic point of view, especially when it involves failure to pay what is owed.
The impact of late payments on small businesses has been widely discussed as an issue that must be eradicated for all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender. But inequality still exists and more needs to be done to eradicate it.
Recent research by Sage highlights that this discrimination doesn’t just impact women in large corporates. Indeed, it identified a worrying trend: female entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer from late payments than their male counterparts.
South Africa was among the six regions (out of 11) surveyed by Sage that reported higher instances of women business builders being paid late. Businesses run by female entrepreneurs in South Africa report that 18% of invoices are paid late and 10% of invoices are written off as bad debt.
Small businesses cannot absorb these costs nor the lost hours spent on admin – amounting to R564 000 in South Africa. The result can be disastrous: in the next 12 months, 1 in 4 female entrepreneurs will prioritise chasing late payments to be more cost efficient, and ironically will become less productive. If these businesses are not paid on time, they will also struggle to pay bonuses and suppliers, and will be forced to delay investments in their businesses.
The fact that late or non-payments is a more common occurrence experienced by female entrepreneurs is part of a wider problem. Women report more instances of sexist comments, disregard for their business ambitions and lack of female mentors as significant underlying reasons why there is now a heightened cultural stigma around chasing late payments amongst female entrepreneurs – more so than men.
In South Africa, the stigma extends past culture, with 40% of Small & Medium Businesses failing to follow up on late payments to protect client relationships. Time and resources are also challenges, with 24% of small businesses saying they don’t have a dedicated resource to chase payments and 13% saying they don’t have time.
There is no place for bias in business – all entrepreneurs should be free to pursue their ambitions without suffering the consequences of these cultural barriers that are encountered far too often – regardless of gender.
Now is the time to disrupt and challenge these harmful stereotypes and create a force for good, making sure that small businesses – the engine room of all economies – are paid what they are duly owed for the services they deliver to our economy.
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