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Sim-swap, a Modern Form of Fraud

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These days sim-swap in Rwanda has become a lengthy process that requires the subscriber to appear in person at a telecom service  centre. Agents have been stripped of this service.

Sim-swap, a modern form of fraud, has resulted in several subscribers losing money.

The Sim-swap scam is not only a concern to Rwanda, but other countries across the East African region, continent and globe.

In 2019, South Africa reported that in a span of one year, SIM-swap incidents had doubled.

Fabio Assolini, a senior security researcher of Kaspersky Lab, said in a report in 2019 that the scams have become common in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Africa, especially South Africa.

Assolini said that the total amount of money lost in the frauds varies by country, though there are extreme cases.

For instance, a victim from the United Arab Emirates in 2019 lost $1 million while another from South Africa lost $20,000 to SIM-swap fraudsters.

A Kenyan national, Stanley Wanjiku, in July 2018 revealed that he had lost $18,000 to the fraudsters. “On average, fraudsters can steal $2,500 to $3,000 per victim, while the cost to perform the SIM-swap starts with $10 to $40 said Assolini.

SIM-swap fraud happens when someone convinces your mobile operator to switch your phone number over to a SIM card that a criminal possesses.

In some cases, there are telecommunications companies’ employees working together with criminals. Kenya’s leading telco, Safaricom, says SIM-swap occurs when “fraudsters replace and take over the customer line”.

“Fraudsters go to the extent of registering an existing number on a new SIM card in order to intercept notifications, one-time passwords, online banking profile and transactions as well as changing the account security settings,” says Safaricom on its website.

Hannington Oduor, a security system analyst at Kenya Power, disclosed to The Standard the tricks used by fraudsters to successfully conduct SIM swaps. “SIM-swap basically is a form of identity theft. In other circles, it’s called impersonation.

The fraudster would call you, and play mind games on you. For instance, after you’ve received the call, he or she will refer to you by your full name, saying they’re calling you from your network service provider,” said Oduor.

“They’ll thereafter read out your full ID number, and go ahead to ask you to confirm if the digits are correct. They do this to win your confidence. That’s what they want at Stage One, before continuing with the fraud.

“Stage Two of their deceit, is issuing out instructions. They’d be calm and patient, and you wouldn’t know that the commands that they’re making lead to them either getting more information about your mobile money, or allows them to activate the SIM-swap prompts,” added the cyber security expert.

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Kazakhstan’s AI-Powered Among Top 10 MedTech Startups

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Kazakhstan’s AI-powered software [Cerebra] for early stroke detection and faster and more accurate treatment, has been included in the list of the world’s ten most innovative projects in the field of medical artificial intelligence, according to Medtronic APAC Innovation Challenge.

This is a platform for startups and businesses run by Medtronic, a Florida-based company in healthcare technology, which is aimed at advancing innovative ideas in therapeutics and digital health, as well as introducing artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning in the field.

Cerebra is artificial intelligence software that is designed for fast stroke diagnosis and minimization of human factors while providing an internal ecosystem for data exchange and any-time remote platform access.

While stroke remains one the leading causes of death in Kazakhstan with nearly 80% of patients suffering severe complications, Cerebra helps detect cytotoxic edema on a CT scan, often hidden from the human eye.

The project, which is a participant of Astana Hub international technopark of IT startups, currently works in test mode in 17 stroke centers across Kazakhstan.

“There are only a few large companies in the world that do stroke diagnostics.

Despite the clear advantages of competitors from Israel, the United Kingdom, and the United States in terms of finance, human power, and the amount of medical data to train AI, our team is very motivated by what we can do for people.

In developed countries, mortality from stroke has been minimized, and in our country, stroke remains one of the first causes of death.

To scale the project abroad, we need to show good results in Kazakhstan, and for this, we need the support of the state,” said project founder Doszhan Zhusaupov.

At the early stage, the startup attracted investments from Quest Ventures Singapore Venture Fund and also won a $50,000 grant for the first place in Build Your Own Business competition from the Saby Foundation in 2020.

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Data Privacy Day: Are Rwandans Protected Online?

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Rwandans will on Friday join their global counterparts to observe the Data Privacy Day usually celebrated on January 28.

Millions of people are unaware of and uninformed about how their personal information is being used, collected or shared in our digital society.

The purpose of Data Privacy Day is to raise awareness and promote privacy and data protection best practices. Data Privacy Day is part of the global online safety, security, and privacy campaign called ‘STOP. THINK. CONNECT.’, — an initiative of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).

Data Privacy Day’s educational initiative originally focused on raising awareness among businesses as well as users about the importance of protecting the privacy of their personal information online, particularly in the context of social networking.

The educational focus has expanded over the years to include families, consumers and businesses.

Our personal information has been at risk for many decades. Personal data has been collected, manipulated, and shared or sold for decades, then manipulated further for profit by banking institutions, product manufacturers, political parties, nonprofit organizations, ad agencies, polling groups, airlines, grocery stores, credit agencies, and many others.

Digital technologies have made the collection of personal data easier, both legally and illegally. And with 4.66 billion people in the world who are active internet users, there is an incalculable amount of unsecured data waiting to be pilfered.

Data Privacy Day promotes events and activities that stimulate the development of technology tools that promote individual control over personally identifiable information; encourage compliance with privacy laws and regulations; and create dialogues among stakeholders interested in advancing data protection and privacy.

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How to Avoid Dangers With Mobile Money Transfers- Worldremit

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world as we know it. Crucially, we have seen a marked acceleration in the global adoption of online and digital platforms in a variety of sectors ranging from education to work collaboration tools to financial services, all of which brings about new sets of cyber security challenges.

Online and digital business platforms are, of course, nothing new, and they certainly predate the advent of the pandemic.

However, the global crisis has given impetus to trends that were already becoming an integral part of life in the 21st century even in countries traditionally less reliant on technology.

Africa is now one of the fastest growing regions taking part in the digital economy where people across the continent have become quick and enthusiastic adopters of global innovation trends.

But this rapid change comes with significant risks, not least of which is the potential for cybercrime, as greater numbers of the African population move online and become increasingly reliant on digital platforms to conduct business, access product and services, and transact financially.

According to a recently released document from the global police agency Interpol, the African Cyberthreat Assessment Report, there are five types of cybercrimes that have become more prevalent than ever before on the continent: online scams, digital extortion, business email compromise, ransomware and botnets.

Africa has more than 500 million internet users, placing the continent ahead of regions such as North America, South America, and the Middle East in terms of the absolute number of people online.

This volume equates to 38% of Africa’s population, which implies there is room for growth in the continent’s use of internet services in the coming years, as levels of connectivity and uptake trend upwards. These will be driven by lower connection costs, greater innovation and rising digital literacy.

According to the report, the leading countries are Kenya with 83% of its population online, Nigeria with 60% and South Africa with 56%.

Mobile banking in particular is noted to be used widely within these three countries, contributing to Africa’s active role in digital financial services, the report finds.People who use online banking, cross-border money transfers, and other financial services, must remain vigilant in order to remain safe online.

WorldRemit, a leading global payments company, advises that users adopt a few basic safety protocols to avoid falling victim to any of the various forms of cybercrime.

Confirm receipt of identity and method: Whether it is cash pickup, mobile money, or bank transfer, it is important that customers ensure they include the recipient’s full legal name, as the bank in the receiving country will match their identification with the transfer information.

Speed is of the essence: Pick a service that ensures your money reaches its intended destination quickly and safely.

Also check if the platform you are using has a 24-hour customer care service that is operational.

There is a simple 3-step process to help avoid online fraud:

Stop: take a moment to think before sending money or providing any information.

Challenge: it’s okay to ignore or refuse requests for funds. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Protect: contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve wired money to a scammer and report it to the relevant authorities.

WorldRemit operates in 44 African countries through partnerships with local mobile network operators (MNOs)

While these partnerships offer an extra layer of protection to mobile money transfers and other online transactions, WorldRemit advises users to confirm the identity of the person they are transacting with and to take advantage of the mobile service’s security protocols to protect their identities and online accounts.

The rise in cybercrime and online scams is the corollary to the rapid digital growth fueled and accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In African countries where, notably, mobile banking and mobile money transfer have leapfrogged to unprecedented levels, it is incumbent on all of us to stay vigilant and beware of fraud by following the safety protocols in place and reporting suspicious activities through the proper channel.

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