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Why we should all care about cyber crime?


By Mihai Lazarescu

In today’s world, the reality is that all individuals and organisations connected to the internet are vulnerable to cyber attack. The number, type and sophistication of attacks continues to grow, as the threat report published last month by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) points out.

It isn’t only large organisations that are under threat. Even individuals or organisations that don’t believe they have much to offer hackers can be targeted. So even if you think you’re a small target, you might still be at risk.

Illusion of trust

Malicious individuals and groups thrive on gathering information that can be used to enhance their attack strategies. Hackers are becoming more focused on spear-phishing attacks, which are tailored to individual people, and any bit of information about you can be of help.

Key to the hacker is the issue of trust. The information gathered is used to build a profile of the target with the aim to have enough data that allows the hacker to appear trustworthy to you.

In most cases, the hacker will attempt to impersonate an entity that is trusted by you. The more information the hacker has on you, the more likely they will be able to maintain the illusion long enough to achieve their aims.

The effects of a successful attack vary significantly, largely depending on the motivation of the hacker.

For most of us, identity theft is likely to cause the most damage because it badly impacts on our ability to go about our normal daily life. Our credit rating could be severely compromised, for example. To make matters worse, the process of addressing the damage of an attack can be costly, time consuming and emotionally exhausting.

In other cases, the damage could be in the form of confidential information, such as medical history records, ending up in the hands of malicious parties, and thus make the you susceptible to different kinds of blackmail.

The recent breach of the Ashley Madison website is a typical example of confidential information about individuals that could be exploited by malicious parties.

Your access is important to hackers

But specific personal information is not the only driving factor behind cyber attacks. Often, the resources or the access you have to other systems is the overall goal.

A common misconception held by many individuals and organisations is that if they do not have anything of value on their systems, they are not likely to be attacked. Or the hackers have nothing to gain from copying all their information.

The information value may be zero, but the resources are precious commodities which can be easily used in two ways:

  1. to launch more intensive, distributed attacks on the hacker’s primary target
  2. they can be “leased out” in the form of botnets to other parties.

From the point of the user clearance, hackers again can exploit the knowledge about the target to attempt to gain access to difficult to reach systems.

Food for hacking thought

I was told of one case in the US where foreign hackers used the eating habits of the staff of a government organisation (obtained from credit charges) to launch a “watering hole” attack.

The hackers were able to easily compromise the server hosting the website of the restaurant frequented by the government employees and replaced the original PDF menus with a new set that had malware embedded in them. Thus, when the government employees were viewing the menus from their secure machines, they were downloading the malware as well.

These are just some of the ways hackers can take advantage of the information gathered from attacks. Unfortunately, the only limiting factor is the creativity of the malicious party. And sadly, hackers are very creative.

Beating cyber attacks

The attitude of individuals and organisations needs to change in order to prevent cyber attacks. There has to be a fundamental understanding that, when online, everyone is a target and that none of us are too small or unimportant.

It is also critical to change the attitude to incident detection and handling. We can only get better at the defence part if we learn from previous experience, painful and costly as that may be. The reason we know about some of the attacks mentioned above is because they were detected and investigated.

Most organisations do not consider incident handling as a core component of cyber defence. And as long as that continues, the improvement in the cyber defences will be slow.

There has to be a concerted effort to treat cyber security seriously rather than an expensive auditing exercise. The vast majority of organisations are looking at cyber security as a compliance task and thus do the minimum possible to achieve that.

The payment card industry’s Data Security Standards for major credit cards is a classic example. It is good that there is a standard, but what is unfortunate is that all organisations try to do is the absolute minimum possible to pass the standard check rather than actually improving their security.

Instead the view should be to use the cyber security requirements as a way to improve overall security and thus avoid costly and damaging incidents in the future.


Could Shakespeare have been high when he penned his plays?


By Francis Thackeray

State-of-the-art forensic technology from South Africa has been used to try and unravel the mystery of what was smoked in tobacco pipes found in the Stratford-upon-Avon garden of British playwright William Shakespeare.

Residue from clay tobacco pipes more than 400 years old from the playwright’s garden were analysed in Pretoria using a sophisticated technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry.

Chemicals from pipe bowls and stems which had been excavated from Shakespeare’ garden and adjacent areas were identified and quantified during the forensic study. The artefacts for the study were on loan from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

The gas technique is very sensitive to residues that can be preserved in pipes even if they had been smoked 400 years ago.

What were they smoking

There were several kinds of tobacco in the 17th century, including the North American Nicotiana (from which we get nicotine), and cocaine (Erythroxylum), which is obtained from Peruvian coca leaves.

It has been claimed that Sir Francis Drake may have brought coca leaves to England after his visit to Peru, just as Sir Walter Raleigh had brought “tobacco leaves” (Nicotiana) from Virginia in North America.

In a recent issue of a magazine called Country Life, Mark Griffiths has stimulated great interest in John Gerard’s Herbal, published in 1597 as a botanical book which includes engraved images of several people in the frontispiece. One of them (cited as “The Fourth Man”) is identified by Griffiths as William Shakespeare, but this identification is questionable.

Possibly, the engraving represents Sir Francis Drake, who knew Gerard.

Gerard’s Herbal refers to various kinds of “tobacco” introduced to Europe by Drake and Raleigh in the days of Shakespeare in Elizabethan England.

There certainly is a link between Drake and plants from the New World, notably corn, the potato and “tobacco”. Furthermore, one can associate Raleigh with the introduction of “tobacco” to Europe from North America (notably in the context of the tobacco plant called Nicotiana, from Virginia and elsewhere).

What we found

There was unquestionable evidence for the smoking of coca leaves in early 17th century England, based on chemical evidence from two pipes in the Stratford-upon-Avon area.

Neither of the pipes with cocaine came from Shakepeare’s garden. But four of the pipes with cannabis did.

Results of this study (including 24 pipe fragments) indicated cannabis in eight samples, nicotine in at least one sample, and in two samples definite evidence for Peruvian cocaine from coca leaves.

Shakespeare may have been aware of the deleterious effects of cocaine as a strange compound. Possibly, he preferred cannabis as a weed with mind-stimulating properties.

These suggestions are based on the following literary indications. In Sonnet 76, Shakespeare writes about “invention in a noted weed”. This can be interpreted to mean that Shakespeare was willing to use “weed” (cannabis as a kind of tobacco) for creative writing (”invention”).

In the same sonnet it appears that he would prefer not to be associated with “compounds strange”, which can be interpreted, at least potentially, to mean “strange drugs” (possibly cocaine).

Sonnet 76 may relate to complex wordplay relating in part to drugs (compounds and “weed”), and in part to a style of writing, associated with clothing (”weeds”) and literary compounds (words combined to form one, as in the case of the word “Philsides” from Philip Sidney).

Was Shakespeare high?

Chemical analyses of residues in early 17th-century clay “tobacco pipes” have confirmed that a diversity of plants was smoked in Europe. Literary analyses and chemical science can be mutually beneficial, bringing the arts and the sciences together in an effort to better understand Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

This has also begged the question whether the plays of Shakespeare were performed in Elizabethan England in a smoke-filled haze?

One can well imagine the scenario in which Shakespeare performed his plays in the court of Queen Elizabeth, in the company of Drake, Raleigh and others who smoked clay pipes filled with “tobacco”.

This piece is based on an article published in the South African Journal of Science in July 2015.


MultiChoice black investors share R1.2bn


By Gugu Lourie

“Wait, please put your DStv on pause. It’s going to be a jolly good day for Phuthuma Nathi investors on 9 September 2015. “

Black investors in Phuthuma Nathi, the broad-based black economic empowerment arm of pay-TV operator MultiChoice, will share more than R1.2 billion in dividends.

“(MultiChoice) again created significant value for stakeholders and recorded positive financial results despite material shifts in its operating environment. The management team continues to address risks and material issues proactively to ensure great entertainment, sustainability and value creation,” Nolo Letele, the chairman of MultiChoice, said in the group’s 2015 annual report.

Letele added that Phuthuma Nathi was one way in which MultiChoice invest in the future of the South African society.

The pay-TV operator will pay Phuthuma Nathi a gross ordinary dividend of R827 million in 2015 versus R373million and R75 million in ordinary dividends in 2014.

MultiChooice will also pay Phuthuma Nathi 2 scheme shareholders R413 million in gross ordinary dividend compared to R187 milllion and R38 million in ordinary dividends in 2014.

The company didn’t declare special dividend in 2015 versus R264 million paid to Phuthuma Nathi and R180 million paid to Phuthuma Nathi 2 in 2014.

Both Phuthuma Nathi and Phuthuma Nathi 2 investors will receive a total net dividend of 1 561, 48 cents per share to be paid on 9 September 2015.

In December 2011 shares in Phuthuma Nathi began trading publicly.

MultiChoice said investors who invested in the BBBBEE scheme and still held their shares until 31 March 2015 have received a return of over 1 400%, including dividends.

The pay-TV operator said that about 70% of black investors have not sold their share since inception of the schemes.

The principal activities of MultiChoice and its operating subsidiaries are the operation of pay-TV and Internet subscriber platform.

The pay television and internet company said it had increased its pay-TV subscribers by 573,000 in the year, pushing its total figures to 5.4 million households.

“We will continue to focus on giving our customers access to a world of entertainment – anywhere, anytime and on any platform. We will enhance our offerings by inventing original products, investing in and developing new technologies, while continuing to improve our customer service initiatives,” said the firms’ CEO Imtiaz Patel.

1m users a month delighted by SuperSport app


By Gugu Lourie

Soccer, rugby and cricket are an obsession for sports fanatics in South Africa. Some people are armchair critics of those sports, while watching them on their pay-TV sets. So how can a mobile phone app keep sports lovers glued to their TV screens?

It seems SuperSport mobile app has found a solution for sports nuts and hard-core fans.

The SuperSport app now has 992 000 active monthly users, and live streaming on the SuperSport website averages 722 000 video streams per month.

Those  users are fans of Kaiser Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Bloemfontein Celtics, The Sharks, Bulls, Stormers, Proteas, Bafana Bafana, Banyana Banyana, Springboks, etc.

MultiChoice, which owns SuperSport, said in the past year the firm has continued to develop SuperSport’s applications for Android, Windows and iOS platforms, adding match, and team and score notifications.

This might be a formula to keep those sports fanatics coming back for more on your mobile app.

SuperSport, the World of Champions, is biggest funder of sport in Africa. It continues to invest in local leagues at all levels by paying broadcast licence fees, upskilling local administrators and production crews, improving facilities, helping to professionalise local leagues and helping federations obtain sponsorships.chiefs700x350

SuperSport’s array of live coverage includes the major World Cup tournaments, the Olympic Games, the golf majors, the tennis Grand Slam events, F1, plus most major and local leagues of the important sports codes.

The SuperSport app is available for download for free at the App Store on your iOS/Android tablet or smartphone.

As a DStv Premium subscriber with an active PVR, and are registered with DStv Connect, you’ll be able to watch most of the big games available on SuperSport through the app.


MTN slashes MTN FrontRow prices


By Gugu Lourie

TURN YOUR SIM INTO A CINEMA – “We’ve got fantastic news: all MTN FrontRow subscribers will now pay only R119 a month, making it more affordable than ever,” says Ashley Ramroop from MTN FronRow.

Want to be one of the few people to use video-on-demand (VOD) on your smart device? MTN has reduced price of its VOD services MTN FrontRow to R119/month down from R179/month.

MTN is targeting a niche market with its VOD services.

The move may be MTN’s strategy to attempt to attract and retain customers in a tough market that has seen tech firm Altech, which is owned by Altron, letting go of its VOD platform Altech Node that is poorly performing in the market. Altech Node was launched in 2014. Altech has informed the market that it “is in the advanced stages of discussions with an unnamed third party to dispose of the product (Altech Node)”.

Furthermore, Vidi, an online streaming service owned by Times Media Group, is providing subscription-based SVoD services at R149 a month without extra costs for data. Times Media Group owns the Sunday Times newspaper.

Vidi has gone quite.

MTN FrontRow was available at the launch price of R179 or R399 a month inclusive of a 10GB data bundle for streaming and viewing.

“We’ve got fantastic news: all MTN FrontRow subscribers will now pay only R119 a month, making it more affordable than ever to watch our huge selection of movies and TV series – including the brilliant Australian drama series Rake and The Slap. And there’s more: on MTN FrontRow Premiere, you can now rent The Avengers and other Marvel superhero movies, including all three Iron Man films!,” Ashley Ramroop from MTN FronRow, said in an email to its customers on Friday.

MTN FrontRow allows subscribers access to thousands of movies and television series on up to five different devices – one device at a time.

Mobile phone operators may have an advantage in delivering subscription-based VoD because they control the cellular handset, which provides customers with the opportunity to stream and consume content whenever and wherever they are,

MTN chief marketing officer, Larry Annetts
MTN chief marketing officer, Larry Annetts

unrestricted by broadcast schedules.

Customers who have subscribed to MTN FrontRow Club can view content via their browser on the MTN website, or through their iOS or Android mobile devices.

To stay ahead of its rivals, MTN’s new-generation network has been going through transformation phases in the last few months. MTN has made sure that the SVoD service is in sync with the network expansion, Larry Annetts, chief marketing officer: MTN South Africa, said in March.

The country’s biggest pay-TV operator MultiChoice also provides the same services to its premium clients through DStv BoxOffice. While Altech Node, owned by JSE-listed Altron, provides subscription at R299 a month for access to older movies and TV shows, and newer movies are available for rental at between R15 and R25.

Earlier this year Naspers, the owner of MultiChoice, revealed that its DStv BoxOffice rentals have reached a massive
600 000 movies a month, which could be delivering millions in revenues similar to those earned by US-based Netflix – a global provider of on-demand internet streaming media.

Vodacom Business targets Morocco

By Gugu Lourie

Vodacom Business Africa targets opportunistic growth in Morocco, Nigeria and Zambia

Vodacom Business Africa is currently targeting growth in Nigeria and Zambia as part of its customer-led investment strategy. The firm is also looking at expanding into Morocco, where it is seeing a proliferation of multinationals setting up businesses.

Vodacom Business Africa already has hubs in West, East and Southern Africa, but not yet in the North African region.

The firm views Morocco as an important hub as many customers are moving or setting up operations there, chief officer of Vodacom Business at Vodacom Group, Vuyani Jarana, said.

Vodacom Business chief officer Vuyani Jarana
Vodacom Business chief officer Vuyani Jarana

At growth of about 5%, Morocco is expected to emerge as the fastest growing economy in North Africa this year, as the new consensus government ends a period of uncertainty and paves the way for bolder economic reforms, according to the Institute of International Finance.

The enterprise arm of Vodacom, a cellphone operator owned by British mobile giant Vodafone, already has points of presence in 27 countries in Africa including Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe, and services about 40 countries.

Vodacom Business Africa has one of the largest enterprise business footprints on the continent, which it gained through the $700m (at the time R5.1bn) acquisition of African network and satellite services firm Gateway Communications in 2008.

It competes for enterprise customers with Africa’s largest mobile phone operator MTN and French telecoms group Orange in the rest of Africa.

In 2012, Vodacom Business Africa sold non-core assets of Gateway Carrier Services for R220m and kept the enterprise segment.

In conjunction with Vodafone Global Enterprise, Vodacom Business Africa serves multinational clients across Africa and globally.

Vodacom Business Africa is targeting more growth opportunities in the enterprise space as part of its expansion drive after modernising its Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) network across the continent. The MPLS network offers a highly scalable method for carrying data quickly and efficiently, especially for corporates.

Opportunistic fibre in Zambia and Nigeria

Vodacom Business Africa has also been modernising its fully-fledged networks in some of its big hubs. It’s currently seeking ways to diversify its revenues in both Zambia and Nigeria, with Jarana saying the Zambian market is a very good story for the company.

“In a sense it’s a business that continues to accelerate. It also continues to give us a foothold in both the consumer and enterprise space,” he explained.

Lusaka, capital city of Zambia

The firm currently operates an Internet service provider in Zambia, focusing on the consumer market and is also looking at high-value residential areas on a targeted basis.

“We are starting to look at fibre-to-the- homes [FFTH] in Zambia,” Jarana said.

However, it was an “opportunistic move”, rather than an aggressive all-out investment.

“We are very clear and thoughtful about how we invest,” he said. The firm will only start a fully-fledged investment in areas once it has tested how the market responds. So, it’s a very balanced risk and opportunity model.”

Vodacom Business Africa provides full ICT services in Nigeria for the enterprise segment and is expecting competition to heat up as rivals MTN, Etisalat, Airtel and Glo Nigeria enter the same space.

Jarana said the company is geared for competition.

The firm believes a wireless network is still the best way to deliver broadband in Nigeria, as such a network is more stable, he said.

“Down the line we think we’ll consider fibre. For us fibre in Nigeria is more opportunistic, rather than a definite strategy.”

Meanwhile, Vodacom in South Africa is banking on its yet-to-be concluded acquisition of Neotel to accelerate roll-out of FTTH and fibre-to- the-business.

An app to improve your diet


By Staff Writer

HealthyFood Switch, which allows consumers to scan the barcode of a packaged food item and provides nutritional information on the energy, total fat, saturated fat, sugar, fibre, sodium and calcium of the product.

Discovery Vitality in partnership with George Institute for Global Health has launched a novel nutrition mobile app known as HealthyFood Switch, which allows consumers to scan the barcode of a packaged food item and provides nutritional information on the energy, total fat, saturated fat, sugar, fibre, sodium and calcium of the product.

The algorithm that governs the app displays nutrient composition either by a star rating system  or by traffic light labelling (red, amber or green). The user is also shown healthier alternatives within the same food category, allowing them to make a switch to a healthier product before they head to the check-out counter.

Head of Vitality Wellness Dr Craig Nossel notes that “in the face of the obesity and noncommunicable diseases epidemic, urgent efforts are needed to empower people to make healthier nutrition choices and to translate the dietary information on the box into meaningful behaviour change.”

He said that “nutritional labelling information is often confusing to consumers, but FoodSwitch makes the whole thing easy because it allows people to interpret the information at a glance and make quick swaps while they’re shopping.”

The app was developed from an existing food database of approximately 17,000 packaged foods and shortly after its release in Australia, FoodSwitch made its way to consumers in New Zealand and the UK. Within a short 18 months of initial launch some 600,000+ users had downloaded the app onto their phones.

Consumers have been encouraged to contribute to the growth of the database by taking pictures of the relevant information on food items and sending this on to the developers, leading to a rapid expansion of the database to over 75,000 products.

“We have had a remarkable response from users,” says Dr Elizabeth Dunford from the George Institute.

Since it was developed, the FoodSwitch app has maintained a 4+ score in app stores and the vast majority of feedback from consumers has been positive. South Africa is the fourth country to have access to FoodSwitch, and plans are in place to release the app in over 30 countries, many of them low- to middle-income countries.

The information displayed to users can enhance understanding of nutritional information and the switches have the potential to lead to significantly improved diets.

Food manufacturers will also need to pay attention to their protocols if they want to feature as products with high stars or green lights appear first.

The data provided by the app will provide interesting insight to support the setting of food policy, including South Africa’s recent aim to reduce the whopping quantities of salt in many food items.

“Technology has the power to dramatically enhance health,” says Dunford, “but the app also has public health implications as it encourages the food industry to take responsibility and re-evaluate what’s in their products.”

MTN cut tariffs, extends MTN Sky offer

By Staff Writer

MTN has slashed the tariffs and extended the promotional period of its popular MTN Sky promotional period due to popular demand. The MTN Sky prepaid bundles have been extended to run until 31 December 2015, while the MTN Sky promotion has been extended until the 3rd of September 2015.

MTN launched the MTN Sky tariff package in September last year. This package offers contract subscribers

MTN chief marketing officer, Larry Annetts
MTN chief marketing officer, Larry Annetts

unlimited calls and SMSs and uncapped data in line with MTN’s quest of providing its customers with value and simplicity.

Since MTN Sky was introduced to market last year, the tariff package has been continuously improved and extended, which affirms its popularity in the market.

Contract customers can sign-up on MTN Sky from R1 299 for the sim only deal on a 24 month contract.

Competitive deals are also available on device deals and subscription depends on the device included in the package.

For example, MTN customers can get a Samsung S6 and S6 Edge smartphones on MTN Sky packages for a monthly subscription of R1899 and R1999 respectively. This promotional price has been further extended to run until the 3rd of September 2015.

In order to extend the MTN Sky offering to more customers, MTN introduced a range of MTN Sky bundles to prepaid subscribers. MTN subsequently introduced promotional offers on Sky bundles which have been well received by the market.

Please refer to table for details of MTN Sky Offers:


MTN Sky bundle Normal Price Promotional Price MTN to MTN Calls (Fair Use Per day) MTN to Other Networks (Fair Use Per day) SMS(Fair Use Per Day) Promo  Data Validity Period
MTN-to-MTN Sky Daily R 25 150 150 400 10MB 1 Day
MTN Sky Daily R 79 150 150 400 Uncapped*(20MB Fair use) 1 Day
MTN Sky Absolute 2GB R 599 R 499 150 150 400 Capped(2GB) 7 Days
MTN Sky Super Uncapped R 999 R 899 150 150 400 Uncapped* (3GB Fair use) 15 Days
MTN Sky Super 1GB R 999 _ 150 100 400 Capped(1GB) 30 Days
MTN Sky Ultimate Uncapped R 1,799 R 1,599 150 150 400 Uncapped* (10GB Fair use) 30 Days


“Uncapped” refers to products where predetermined usage thresholds may still be relevant, but connectivity is never severed.

*Fair Use Policy will apply: The rate will be limited to 384kb/s for all traffic once the customer’s usage has reached the defined threshold

 Says Larry Annetts, Chief Marketing Officer: MTN South Africa: “The Sky offers are tailored and customised to suit the communication requirements of different customers. We believe that these offers will resonate with our customers who prefer flexible, simple and hassle-free solutions that meet their lifestyle. As a customer-centric organisation, we are excited to bring to market solutions that are unparalleled in value and that prioritise the needs of our customers.”

Is technology bad for humanity?




The world today is facing some serious global challenges: creating sustainable development in the face of climate change, safeguarding rights and justice, and growing ethical markets, for a start. All of these challenges share some connection with science and technology – some more explicitly than others.

We are currently witnessing a growth in traditional technology – with computers processing data in new and exciting ways. We’re also seeing the birth of transformative technology, such as bioengineering. But the question is not about old or new technology – rather, it is about how they are being used to facilitate or change human behaviour.

Good tech, bad tech

Developments in information and communication technology (ICT) are vitally important to help us make better, more informed choices about how we prepare for the future. For instance, democratic governance is about being able to articulate contesting views across society and from different parts of the government. The advent of the internet allows us to receive and spread such information. Likewise, security and public safety relies on having good information on risks and their potential threats. Consider, for example, the way police departments in New York and Memphis have been able to make better use of data to prevent crime.

While science and technology are giving us the tools to improve, they – and the people who use them – are also presenting serious problems. Technology connects us, but it also makes us vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The amount of information that we produce every day through our phones and computers can help shape our environment to cater to us. But it also means that our identities are perhaps more vulnerable than ever before, with smart phones and club cards tracking our every move.

Similarly, in biology, we are able to make amazing gains in physical corrections, repairs, amendments, and augmentations, whether replacing old limbs or growing new ones. But we must also seriously consider the issues around ethics, safety and security. The debate around gain of function experiments, which give diseases new properties to help us study them, is a good example.

Hopes and fears

To help us grasp the shape and scope of these challenges, the Millennium Project – an international think tank – releases an annual State of the Future report, which outlines the major hurdles facing humanity over the next 35 years. It illustrates our complicated relationship with science and technology. Just as the beginning of the industrial revolution influenced the underlying themes of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, we too are worried about the unforeseen complications that the latest developments could bring.

The report tells us of the great hopes that synthetic biology will help us write genetic code like we write computer code; about the power of 3D printing to customise and construct smart houses; of the future of artificial intelligence where the human mind and the computer mind meet, rather than conflict.

Frankenstein bringing his monster to life. twm1340/flickr, CC BY-SA

But at the same time, the authors of the report – Jerome Glenn, Elizabeth Florescu and their team – express fears that there is a great chance we could be outstripped in pace by the evolution of scientific and technological development. The authors suggest that we seek out human-friendly control systems, since advances in these fields mean that lone individuals could make and deploy weapons of mass destruction.

There are two concerns here: one to do with agency, the other relating to structures. Individuals have the potential to use scientific and technological advances to cause harm. This is a growing problem, as science and technology continues to degrade what Max Weber referred to as the state’s “monopoly on violence”.

To reduce the risks associated with agency, we will rely on structures that encourage good behaviour, such as systems for justice, education and the provision of basic necessities for life.

But it is not clear how we will arrive at such structures, and where the responsibility to develop them will fall; whether it’s to regions, states or international organisations. This is especially pressing, as many states have either foregone a welfare system, or are in the process of destroyingit. It’s unclear where education and training come in, or how regulatory control is to work across so many local, national, societal, and commercial boundaries.

An ethical approach?

Whether or not our global society is outstripped by science and technology largely depends on us. And this is part of the problem, as William Nordhaus warned us as early as 1982, in his work on the Global Commons. The report calls for an ethical approach to creating systems, forms of information, and models of control that would allow us to engage with science and technology as it develops.

This means embedding ethical considerations into the way we think about the future. The authors want a larger discussion on global ethics, such as that we have seen rooted in the work done by the International Organisation for Standardisation – the world’s largest developer of voluntary international standards.

Ultimately, where we end up in relation to science and technology is a matter of coming to terms with how we interact with these developments. Until we do so, a safe and prosperous world may elude us.

60,000 new users fell in love with Mix solutions 


By Gugu Lourie

South African-based fleet management Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider, Mix Telematics, attracted 60, 000 new subscribers in the year-on-year, signing up for fleet management and asset tracking solutions.

The company said on Thursday that growth in subscription revenue was driven primarily by an increase of over 60,000 subscribers, resulting in a rise in customers of 13.1% from June 2014 to June 2015. It grew its subscription revenue 15% to R271.8 million ($22.1 million).

The firm added that hardware and other revenue was R72.3 million ($5.9 million) in the first quarter of financial year 2016 that ended on 30 June 2015, a decrease of 12.4% compared to R82.6 million ($6.7 million) for the first quarter of fiscal year 2015.

“Our results for the quarter demonstrate our ability to deliver ongoing value to customers across the globe. We posted solid revenue growth,

president and CEO of Mix Telematics Stefan Joselowitz
president and CEO of Mix Telematics Stefan Joselowitz

profitability and operating cash flow,” said Stefan Joselowitz, Chief Executive Officer of MiX Telematics.


“We continue to take a balanced approach to growth and profits and are pleased to report that our adjustments to our overhead cost structures are yielding savings without undermining our productivity. With our growing stable of features including flexible analytics and extended mobile capabilities, we continue to capitalize on our position as the leading global provider of cloud-based fleet management and asset tracking solutions.”

Mix Telematics has offices in Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US. Thousands of South African customers rely on its stolen-vehicle recovery service, Matrix Vehicle Tracking.

The small-cap company that listed on the JSE as recently as 2007 is making rapid inroads into a number of export markets.

Its total revenue was R344.1 million ($28.0 million), an increase of 7.8% compared to R319.2 million ($26.0 million) for the first quarter of fiscal year 2015.

The company doesn’t expect growth to slow down and sees full-year 2016 subscription revenue to rise by 15% to 17 % or R1.14 billion to R1.17 billion.

MiX Telematics services customers in 120 countries and has an advantage of operating across six continents. It also has a network of more than 130 fleet partners globally.

It was established in 1996 in South Africa, two years after the first democratic election. In 2007, its shares floated on the JSE.