Friday, 27 November 2015

Seven Tips for A Secure Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday, VPN, Internet security, hackers
[Source: Kevin Marks]
Thanksgiving may be an all-American holiday, but Cyber Monday no longer belongs to any country in particular. Internet users from Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates alike will go online November 30 in search of deals, but hackers will also be there, looking for information to steal.

Before you shop online this Monday, protect yourself:
  • Take advantage of two-factor authentication when possible: Many platforms offer an additional layer of protection beyond username and password. If this is an option, take it., for example, will now text users a code that needs to be entered before logging in. To set this up, click on “Your Account”, “Change Account Settings” and finally “Advanced Security Settings”; your stored personal and credit card information will thank you.  

  • Answer security questions with fake answers: What is your mother’s maiden name? What year did you graduate high school? What street did you grow up on? With Facebook, Google and a little ingenuity, it’s not hard for a hacker to find the actual answers to your security questions. Think differently: What was your first pet’s name? To get to the other side. 
  • Beware of pop ups and unsolicited emails: The approaching holiday season means that retailers are working hard to get you to buy now more than ever—and that hackers are creating malicious links they hope you will click on. (Typos and mismatched URLs are warning signs worth noting.) Yes, you will receive an onslaught of pop ups and emails, but you do not have to click on their links or attachments. If you see an offer you like, type the URL into your browser rather than use the link provided.   
  • Look for HTTPS and a padlock in your browser: HTTP is not enough if you are about to enter personal or credit card information. A secure site will begin with https://.
  • Choose credit over debit: A hacker with your debit card information also has access to your bank account. Credit cards, alternatively, typically have protections against unwanted purchases built into their user agreements. 
  • Avoid QR codes: Those pixelated squares that can be scanned by your phone’s camera can also be infiltrated by hackers to redirect to a malicious website. QR codes are convenient, but not worth the risk involved. 
  • Use a VPN for an extra layer of protection: Hoping to do a little mobile shopping while waiting in line for coffee? Whether you’re at the mall, a coffee shop or the airport, public Wi-Fi is an insecure hacker haven. Be sure to login to a VPN to secure your connection and encrypt your traffic.
Utilizing two-factor authentication, typing in a URL, and logging into your SumRando VPN connection are measures that will slow down your Cyber Monday shopping, but they will also protect your purchases from the prying eyes of hackers. Isn’t your security worth it?

SumRando Cybersecurity is a South Africa-based VPN, Web Proxy and Secure Messenger provider.
 Surf secure and stay Rando!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

#Justice4Morocco Postponed, But In Reach

Hicham Mansouri, Morocco, human rights
Journalist Hicham Mansouri, currently in jail, and 6 others face charges for their work as human rights defenders. [Source: LaSource]
A Moroccan trial originally scheduled for November 19 has been postponed until January, a testament to the power of international pushback.

According to the Washington Post, the Moroccan law violated was “support intended, or used, to finance an activity or propaganda capable of harming the integrity, sovereignty or independence of the Kingdom, or shaking the loyalty that citizens owe to the state and institutions of the Moroccan people.”

In reality, activists Maati Monjib, Hicham Mansouri, Abdessamad Iach, Mohamed Elsabr and Hisham Almiraat’s “crime” was training others to use StoryMaker, an Android app for citizen journalism, and in January could face up to five years’ imprisonment. Of the five accused, Mansouri has been in jail since March on official charges of adultery that are widely thought to have more to do with his work with the Moroccan Association for Investigative Journalism (AMJI) than his personal life.

Additionally, Maria Moukrim and Rachid Tarik face charges of receiving foreign funding without properly notifying the government, as Free Press Unlimited, a Dutch NGO, funded the StoryMaker app project in Morocco.

These seven individuals have dedicated their time to not only AMJI and Free Press Unlimited, but also to the Association of Digital Rights (ADN), Global Voices, the Moroccan Association for Youth Education (AMEJ) and the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH)) and deserve recognition, not punishment, for the work that they have done.

Individuals and organizations opposed to the charges, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Amnesty International, Front Line Defenders and Free Press Unlimited, should be heartened by last week’s postponement, but this is one worthy fight that is not over yet. 

We encourage you to follow Front Line Defenders’ recommendation to tell Moroccan Minister of Justice Mustafa Ramid to:
  1. Immediately drop all the charges against Maati Monjib, Hisham Almiraat, Samad Iach, Hicham Mansouri, Mohamed Elsabr, Rachid Tarek and Maria Makram, as [you] believe that they are being targeted solely as a result of their legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;  
  2. Refrain from any further harassment of the human rights defenders;
  3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Morocco are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions. 

Want to know more about government repression of free speech? Read on!

SumRando Cybersecurity is a South Africa-based VPN, Web Proxy and Secure Messenger provider. Surf secure and stay Rando!

Monday, 23 November 2015

SumVoices: Problems Without End In Algeria's Internet

Our last installment of SumVoices featured Swedish librarian and Internet access advocate Helén Palm. This week we bring you the insight of Algerian journalist Rim Hayat Chaif. The two-part report features a version in Arabic, below

Rim Hayat Chaif, Algeria, internet accessTalking about the situation of the internet in Algeria has spilled much ink, between frequent cuts, high costs, poor quality service and exaggerated rates of subscriptions. Algérie Télécome (AT) is the only internet service provider (ISP) in Algeria and it leads the telecommunications sector. Algerian internet users complain of bad service. The promises are many, but without implementation on the ground. Let Algerians ask about solutions and what to do to avoid such things.

Algeria greatly lags behind in access to technological resources including the internet. In the region of North Africa, Algeria is ranked behind Morocco and Tunisia. Indeed, the internet penetration rate is estimated to be 14% while neighbors Morocco and Tunisia are respectively about 51% and 39% according to a case study conducted by Google North Africa in 2013. This lack of penetration is explained by the vast space of the country compared to its neighbors.

The infrastructure of the internet in Algeria is weak and requires many things to make the situation better for Algerian internet users. This poor quality of internet connectivity is due mostly to selling the same bandwidth to more than 40 families at the same time, which causes major online blockage and traffic.  Users wonder why they are getting such a slow internet connection even if they registered for better service. By this logic, it became impossible to give them good internet service.

Algerian internet users certainly know better than anyone the extent of the shortcomings of internet services. They have suffered from decades of bad connections. Moreover, this is due to the monopoly of the internet by just one company. In vain the private sector suggested the creation of an independent company, which would manage the national network and the fiber optics as well as the international connections and the infrastructure. Algerie Télécome (AT) is the state owned company that monopolizes the national IT market and telephone lines in the country. The lack or even the absence of competition in this sector has resulted in a delay for the internet and what comes with.

This situation has created a huge delay in online services as e-commerce and e-payment have not been implemented yet. Despite the existence of many e-commerce sites in Algeria like and, traditional methods for payment by bank transfer, cash on delivery or even by chéque are used.

A recent official report published in Algerian newspaper Echourok disclosed that Algérie Télécome (AT) was unable to make a global and obvious plan for fiber optic utilization and exploitation in a better way or to raise the capacity and the speed of the local and international access to the Internet. Algeria is considered to be one of the countries that has the slowest internet connectivity in the world, ranked 179th with a rate of 3.3 mbps/sec, according to a net index website.

Meanwhile, the improvements are minor, and several places in rural regions in Algeria are still unconnected.

Recently, internet access was disrupted for several days and was totally cut in some areas, caused by a cut of a submarine cable linking Annaba (600 km east of Algiers) to Marseilles in south-eastern France. This was announced by Algerie Télécome on 22 October. As a result, the country lost 80% of its internet access capacity.

This blackout forced many cybercafés to close their doors, and many netizens criticized the weak infrastructure. In reality, there are two submarine cables that link Algeria to Europe, the one which was cut, and the other from Palermo, Italy.

In fact, Algeria has about 10 million internet subscribers while two million are connected via ADSL according to AT, nearly a quarter of the population. After that Internet was restored, ADSL subscribers received a free automatic extension for a period equal to the time during the plagued interruption of the internet service.

Rim Hayat Chaif

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الأنترنت في الجزائر: مشاكل لا نهاية لها

Our last installment of SumVoices featured Swedish librarian and Internet access advocate Helén Palm. This week we bring you the insight of Algerian journalist Rim Hayat Chaif. The two-part report features a version in English, above

Rim Hayat Chaif, internet access, Algeriaالحديث عن وضع الانترنت في الجزائر أسال الكثير من الحبر، فبين الانقطاعات المتكررة والتدفق البطيء والتسعيرة الغالية، مازال مستخدمو الانترنت الجزائريين يشتكون من رداءة الخدمات الى حد الساعة. الوعود كثيرة ولكن شتان بين الوعود والتطبيق على أرض الواقع. على العلم بأن الجزائرية للاتصالات تعتبر الشركة الوحيدة المزودة للأنترنت في الجزائر كما تقوم باحتكار قطاع الاتصالات.

تفتقد الجزائر الى الكثير في مجال تكنولوجيا المعلومات والاتصالات بما فيهم خدمة الأنترنت. ففي منطقة شمال افريقيا تحتل الجزائر أسوأ مرتبة بعد تونس والمغرب. في الواقع، تشير دراسة قام بها جوجل لشمال افريقيا حول معدل انتشار الانترنت في شمال افريقيا لسنة 2013 بأن معدل دخول الانترنت في الجزائر هو 14 بالمئة في حين أن البلدان المجاورة لها المغرب وتونس يمتلكان المعدلين كالتوالي 51 بالمئة و39 بالمئة. ولكن يمكن تفسير هذه النتيجة بمساحة الجزائر الشاسعة مقارنة بجاراتها.

كما أن البنية التحتية للأنترنت مازالت ضعيفة ولا تصل الى المستوى، وتستلزم القيام بأمور كثيرة من أجل تحسين الوضع لمستخدمي الانترنت الجزائريين.  كما أن لرداءة الانترنت سببا اخر يتمثل حسب تقرير كشفت عنه جريدة الشروق الجزائرية في بيع 1 ميغابيت الى أكثر من 40 عائلة في نفس الوقت مما يسبب زحمة كبيرة على الخط الذي يعتبر الطريق السيار الى الدخول الى الشبكة العنكبوتية فكلما زاد عدد المبحرين على نفس الشبكة كلما زاد الضغط عليه وبالتالي تضعف الشبكة. وبهذا يكون من المستحيل تقديم خدمة جيدة للزبائن بالرغم من ان للشركة نطاق نفاذ واسع يمكن من خلاله تحسين الخدمات.

فبلا شك، يعرف مستخدمو الانترنت في الجزائر أكثر من غيرهم مدى التقصير معهم في الخدمات، يعاني هؤلاء منذ سنوات من ضعف الأنترنت وانقطاعه في بعض الأحيان لأيام. ويعود هذا بالنسبة للتقنيين وخبراء جزائريين الى احتكار شركة اتصالات الجزائر للأنترنت وعدم إعطاء الفرصة للشركات الخاصة بالدخول والمشاركة في هذا المجال والذي يفتح المجال للتنافس بينهم من خلال عروض و باقات تمكن المواطن من اختيار ما يراه مناسبا له. من اجل وضع حد لهذا الاحتكار السلبي، تقدم عدة متعاملين خواص بالطلب من الحكومة بتحرير الشبكة الوطنية للألياف البصرية و البنية التحتية للاتصالات ونقاط النفاذ الى الشبكة الدولية للأنترنت و تأسيس متعامل مستقل بذاته و متخصص في تسييرها كما هو معمول به في اغلبية دول العالم. فعدم وجود متعامل منافس أدى الى ضعف الخدمة أو حتى عدم الاكتراث لها.

وهذا ما نتج عنه تأخر كبير في عدة ميادين مرتبطة بالأنترنت كالتجارة الالكترونية والدفع الالكتروني، على الرغم من وجود عدة مواقع جزائرية للبيع الالكتروني,,  و لكن وجودها كعدمه فهي تستخدم طرقا تقليدية للدفع كالتحويل البنكي او الدفع بنفس المكان او حتى بالصك.

هذا و قد احتوى التقرير المشار اليه سابقا بأن شركة الاتصالات الجزائر فشلت في وضع خطة وطنية شاملة واضحة المعالم من أجل ضمان رؤية شفافة لكيفية استغلال الشبكة الوطنية للألياف البصرية بشكل امثل ما أدى الى تقديم خدمات رديئة بأسعار غالية للزبائن. كما تحتل الجزائر المراتب الأخيرة و تعتبر من البلدان ذات الانترنت الضعيف بحيث احتلت المرتبة -179- بسرعة تحميل 3.3 ميغابيت بالثانية حسب موقع نت اندكس.

وفي نفس الوقت، التحسينات قليلة وهناك عدة مناطق ريفية لا تملك الانترنت الى حد الساعة.

كما سجل في الفترة القليلة الماضية انقطاع للأنترنت بصفة جزئية من الجزائرمؤديا بها بالانقطاع عن العالم لأيام متواصلة، مؤديا بالجزائر الى فقدان 80 بالمئة من قدرتها بالدخول الشبكة العنكبوتية. نتيجة تضرر الكابل البحري الذي يصل مرسيليا – فرنسا- بعنابة –الجزائر- التي تبعد حوالي 600 كلم عن الجزائر العاصمة من الجهة الشرقية. تم الإعلان عن هذا من طرف الشركة الجزائرية للاتصالات يوم 22 أكتوبر الماضي.

هذا ما أدى بالكثير من مقاهي الانترنت بالوطن بغلق ابوابهم كما استغل الناشطون الجزائريون على الأنترنت بالتعبير عن سخطهم من الامر وانتقاد البنية التحتية للأنترنت في بلدهم.

بعد عودة الانترنت استفاد جميع زبائن اتصالات الجزائر بخدمة انترنت مجانية لستة أيام كاملة تعويضا للتضرر الذي حصل و الذي استنكره أغلبية الجزائريين.

وتملك الجزائر كابلين بحريين الأول الذي يربطها بفرنسا عبر عنابة والثاني يربطها بإيطاليا عبر العاصمة. وتسجل الجزائر 10 ملايين مشترك في الأنترنت الرقم الذي يمثل ربع سكان الجزائر بينهم مليونين مربوطين عبر خدمة ADSL.

ريم حياة شايف

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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Facebook Offers A French Flag; Concerned Users Provide Choice, Facebook profile picture gives SumRando a new look.
If you’re one of the millions of people who check Facebook daily, you may have noticed a hostility in your news feed that wasn’t there a week ago. Users are upset that Facebook offered a flag in solidarity with the Paris bombings, but not one in support of Kenya; that Safety Check was turned on for Paris, but not Beirut; that they cannot express sympathy for Paris without being criticized for not sympathizing with other bombed cities; that the rights of refugees have been called into question…

Be it an act of recognition, apology, or pacification, Facebook activated Safety Check for the second time in less than a week, this time for Tuesday’s bombing in Yola, Nigeria. Historically, Safety Check had been reserved for times of natural disaster (think: April’s earthquake in Nepal), but Paris was the precedent that shifted the tool into the realm of human disaster.

Regardless, given that Nigeria’s Safety Check was not accompanied with a flag overlay, it’s clear that Nigeria has been given the ‘Free Basics’ treatment, if also likely that Facebook had little interest in perpetuating the very flag war it had begun.

A disaster is one of the few reasons we can imagine a user would want to broadcast their location and status to others; for that, we applaud Safety Check and its growing ubiquity.

Regarding flag overlays, however, we remind you that your Facebook page is just that: your page. Facebook’s suggestions are always yours to leave or take; your profile picture is yours to modify as you see fit. 

Facebook has been littered with French flags in the past week, but there are also countless examples of users taking matters into their own hands. Of note:
  • was created to add an overlay of flags from all countries attacked by ISIS to profile pictures. The website includes 27 countries and welcomes submissions of any countries overlooked.
  • Facebook user Hubert Southall posted “All cries need to be heard” and has offered to create any overlay not provided by Facebook for any user in need.

No platform is perfect, but what Facebook has always done well is enable users to express themselves to friends and the public as they (more or less) wish. The hostility of the past week demonstrates that Facebook users everywhere want equal treatment and also that messages are perhaps best expressed without Facebook’s prompting.

SumRando Cybersecurity is a South Africa-based VPN, Web Proxy and Secure Messenger provider.