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Archive for the ‘Kenya_Technology’ Category

Google Apologizes to Kenya Startup Over Dirty Business Tactics

Posted by Administrator on January 13, 2012

Google has confirmed as true allegations made on Friday by a Kenyan provider of online business listings, Mocality, that Google staffers attempted to undermine its business by lying to its customers and improperly mining its data.

“We were mortified to learn that a team of people working on a Google project improperly used Mocality’s data and misrepresented our relationship with Mocality to encourage customers to create new websites,” said Nelson Mattos, Google’s vice president for product and engineering, Europe and emerging markets.

“We’ve already unreservedly apologized to Mocality. We’re still investigating exactly how this happened, and as soon as we have all the facts, we’ll be taking the appropriate action with the people involved,” he said in a statement.

Mocality, which has compiled a large online directory of Kenyan business listings, alleged earlier on Friday that for months Google has falsely told Mocality customers that the two companies have a partnership and that Mocality charges for its services.

The calls started shortly after Google announced its plan in September to provide Kenyan small and medium-size businesses with freely hosted and designed websites, as well as a fee-based option to purchase their own domain, according to Mocality CEO Stefan Magdalinski, who published a detailed account of the claims on the company’s blog

About 30 percent of the 170,000 businesses listed in Mocality’s directory have been contacted by Google staffers in Kenya and by employees from a call center company Google apparently hired in India as part of the Getting Kenyan Businesses Online (GKBO) initiative, he claims.

“Since October, Google’s GKBO appears to have been systematically accessing Mocality’s database and attempting to sell their competing product to our business owners. They have been telling untruths about their relationship with us, and about our business practices, in order to do so,” he wrote.

Magdalinksi provides a variety of evidence to substantiate his claims, including IP addresses and recorded conversations between its staffers and callers representing Google, who thought they were talking to a Mocality customer.

Mocality’s database is its core business, and the company built it by paying Kenyans a fee for every business listing they submit and is verified as accurate. Over the past two years, it has paid more than $100,000 to individuals in Kenya as part of this “crowdsourcing” effort.

The news comes at a particularly bad time for Google, which this week has gotten hammered by various industry experts and organizations who argue that its latest search feature, which includes promoting Google+ business profiles in result pages, is unfair to competitors and potentially illegal on antitrust grounds.

Source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/248161/google_apologizes_to_kenya_startup_over_dirty_business_tactics.html

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Posted in Kenya, Kenya_Technology | 1 Comment »

TedxVienna – Alexander Oswald – Why Kenyans do it better in Technology

Posted by Administrator on November 17, 2011

Posted in Analysis and Opinion, Kenya_Technology | 2 Comments »

Cyber criminals hit harder with identical websites of top firms

Posted by Administrator on January 13, 2011

The fraudsters have gone full circle to entice jobseekers with high salaries posted on the website. Photo/PHOTOS.COM

The fraudsters have gone full circle to entice jobseekers with high salaries posted on the website. Photo/PHOTOS.COM

Online conmen have upped their game in the Kenya’s web space, creating identical websites to those of blue chip companies to swindle job seekers looking for employment through the internet.

East African Breweries Limited was this week the latest victim of cyber criminals who created a fake website, http://eabl.page4.me, with ‘new, job vacancies for accountants, brew masters, IT technicians and drivers.

EABL’s legitimate website is http://www.eabl.com and currently doesn’t have the purported vacancies.

The fraudsters have gone full circle to entice job seekers with high salaries posted on the website and asking those interested to pay a ‘refundable’ application fee of Sh5,500 via Safaricom’s money transfer service, M-Pesa.

EABL and most reputable organisations do not charge for interviews and do not give information on pay before recruitment.

“EABL will not be held liable or take responsibility for any loss or damages arising from information obtained from this website,” said EABL in a statement circulated in the local dailies.

Sources familiar with the attack say that this was the second time and the matter is now under investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), while admitting that such cases are now more prevalent than organisations can admit.

Technology experts fault lack of a specific government agency to check online activity and are calling on organisations to beef up their online security systems and monitor their cyber space.

“There is no government agency checking what is written on the websites leaving it up to consumers to use their own senses, judgment and logical reasoning skills to figure out which are real and which are fake. But sadly many people especially, the job seekers miss logical reasoning abilities when responding to such information,” said Moses Simiyu, an IT expert.

According to the Kenya Communications (Amendment) Act 2009, a hacker if convicted shall be liable to a fine not exceeding Sh300,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or both.

However, the Act does not capture criminals who come up with identical websites to those of an organisation, providing the fraudsters with a free license to operate.

Experts say the SIM card registration could have gone a long way in reducing crime committed using the mobile phone.

“If the government had moved to enforce the SIM card registration exercise, perhaps such conmen would not have the guts to use the mobile network to carry out their criminal activities,” said Mr Simiyu.

Increased bandwidth

Online fraudsters are taking advantage of the increased bandwidth, courtesy of the three undersea fibre optic cables, to attack and even bring down government and company websites.

Last week, the Kenya Police website landed in the hands of cyber criminals, who defaced the front page with a message dedicating their feat to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO and founder.

The hacker also updated the title of the page, raising the question about the safety of data held by government at a time its agencies are adopting e-government.

Others whose websites have been hacked include State House, Ministry of Finance, administration police and mobile service provider, Yu among others.

Technology experts say that companies with websites should not just stop at protecting their sites from external attacks, but also monitor created identical websites to their own, doubling their workload.

“Most of such websites contain just one or two web pages with the specific misinformation. It can even be a creation of competitors with an intention to ruin your reputation as a company,” said Colin Azavedo, director of a marketing agency Wunderman.

According to Mr Azavedo, large companies that witness lots of hits per day on their websites are the most targeted and it is important that they invest in personnel to monitor what is happening within and outside their websites.

“This will call for more investment in human resource with a specific job description of monitoring what is happening on their websites and also the fraudsters. They can also use e-mail, instant messaging, or social networks to direct users to enter details at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one,” said Mr Azavedo.

Organisations that also rarely update their websites have also been cited as potential targets.

“If you rarely update your website or check it out frequently, an online criminal could easily make a copy and use it against you,” said Mr Simiyu.

Threaten credibility

The rising cases of online insecurity now threaten the credibility of information on company’s websites, and could hurt the ongoing shift towards e-collaboration, brand building and marketing.

Social websites have been the easiest targets of cons since they can easily open a new account for their target company at little or no expense and share information as if it is coming from the said company to its group of friends or followers.

Some of the main areas Kenyans engage companies online that can easily be used by cons include promotions or specific offer about the brand or use specific applications promoted by the brand.

Should this information be false or from a fraudster’s website, then this would work against the company’s image.

SOURCE: http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Cyber%20criminals%20hit%20harder%20with%20identical%20websites%20of%20top%20firms/-/539444/1088542/-/item/1/-/cm1u0qz/-/index.html

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Hacker defaces Kenyan Police website, dedicates it to Mark Zuckerberg

Posted by Administrator on January 4, 2011

A hacker has managed to gain access to the official Kenyan Police website, dedicating the hack to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the process.

The website, kenyapolice.go.ke, which runs on Microsoft web scripting language ASP, looks to have had the front page redirected from its default index ASP file (or even deleted) to a static HTML file, which reads:

Got in and all i could think about was zuckerberg!!! This’ for you Mark!

It’s not the first time Kenyan authorities have been targeted by web attacks. The Kenyan Administration Police website was targeted in June and October of last year by two independent hackers, both defacing the front page of the website.

The rest of the website appears to load correctly, only the front page appears to have been amended in the attack.

That hasn’t stopped Google indexing the page either, the amended text on the index page is clear for all to see:

Source: http://thenextweb.com/facebook/2011/01/04/hacker-defaces-kenyan-police-website-dedicates-it-to-mark-zuckerberg/

Posted in Kenya, Kenya_Technology | 1 Comment »

The hacker who went into the cold

Posted by Administrator on November 23, 2010

One night in July 2003, a little before midnight, a plainclothes NYPD detective, investigating a series of car thefts in upper Manhattan, followed a suspicious-looking young man into the ATM lobby of a bank.

The detective watched as the man pulled a debit card from his pocket and withdrew hundreds of dollars in cash.

Then he pulled out another card and did the same thing. Then another, and another. The guy wasn’t stealing cars, but the detective figured he was stealing something.

Indeed, the young man was in the act of “cashing out,” as he would later admit. He had programmed a stack of blank debit cards with stolen card numbers and was withdrawing as much cash as he could from each account.

He was doing this just before 12 am, because that’s when daily withdrawal limits end, and a “casher” can double his take with another withdrawal a few minutes later.

The detective asked his name, and though the man went by many aliases on the Internet, he told the truth. “Albert Gonzalez,” he said.

After Gonzalez was arrested, word quickly made its way to the New Jersey US attorney’s office in Newark, which, along with agents from the Secret Service’s Electronic Crimes Task Force, had been investigating credit- and debit-card fraud involving cashers in the area, without much luck.

Gonzalez was debriefed and soon found to be a rare catch. Not only did he have data on millions of card accounts stored on the computer back in his New Jersey apartment, but he also had a knack for patiently explaining his expertise in online card fraud.

Gonzalez, law-enforcement officials would discover, was a moderator and rising star on Shadowcrew.com, an archetypal criminal cyberbazaar that sprang up during the Internet commerce boom in the early 2000s.

Shadowcrew had hundreds of members across the United States, Europe and Asia. It was, as one federal prosecutor put it to me, “an eBay, Monster.com and MySpace for cybercrime.”

After a couple of interviews, Gonzalez agreed to help the government so he could avoid prosecution. “I was 22 years old and scared,” he’d tell me later.

Gonzalez became one of the most valuable cybercrime informants the government has ever had. After his help enabled officials to indict more than a dozen members of Shadowcrew, Gonzalez’s minders at the Secret Service urged him to move back to his hometown, Miami, for his own safety.

After aiding another investigation, he became a paid informant in the Secret Service field office in Miami in early 2006.

The Secret Service agent who would come to know Gonzalez best, Agent Michael (a nickname derived from his real name), was transferred to Miami, and he worked with Gonzalez on a series of investigations on which Gonzalez did such a good job that the agency asked him to speak at seminars and conferences.

“It seemed he was trying to do the right thing,” Agent Michael said.

He wasn’t. Over the course of several years, during much of which he worked for the government, Gonzalez and his crew of hackers and other affiliates gained access to roughly 180 million payment-card accounts from the customer databases of some of the most well known corporations in America.

At his sentencing hearing in March, where he received two concurrent 20-year terms, the longest sentence ever handed down to an American for computer crimes, the judge said, “What I found most devastating was the fact that you two-timed the government agency that you were cooperating with, and you were essentially like a double agent.”

Gonzalez bought his first PC when he was 12. By the time he was 14 had hacked into NASA, which resulted in a visit by FBI agents to his South Miami high school. Undeterred, Gonzalez formed a cooperative of “black hats” – curiosity-driven hackers with an anti-authoritarian bent – and acquired a reputation.

By the time he dropped out of Miami Dade College during his freshman year, Gonzalez had taught himself, by reading software manuals, how to hack into Internet service providers for free broadband.

He discovered he could go further than that and co-opted the logins and passwords of managers and executives.

Sherlock Holmes quality

Gonzalez’s closest friend, Stephen Watt, who is now serving a two-year prison sentence for coding a software program that helped Gonzalez steal card data, describes Gonzalez as having “a Sherlock Holmes quality to him that is bounded only by his formal education.”

It was after he agreed in 2003 to become an informant that Gonzalez helped the Justice Department and the Secret Service to build, over the course of a year, an ingenious trap for Shadowcrew.

Gonzalez was the linchpin of Operation Firewall. Through him, the government came to, in hacker lingo, “own” Shadowcrew, as undercover buyers infiltrated the network and traced its users around the world; eventually, officials even managed to transfer the site onto a server controlled by the Secret Service.

Gonzalez persuaded Shadowcrew users to communicate through a virtual private network a secure channel that sends encrypted messages between computers, that he introduced onto the site. This VPN came with a special feature: a court-ordered wiretap.

Gonzalez worked alongside the agents for months on end. Most called him Albert. A couple of them who especially liked him called him Soup, after his old screen name soupnazi.

“Spending this much time with an informant this deeply into a cybercrime conspiracy – it was a totally new experience for all of us,” one Justice Department prosecutor says.

“It was kind of a bonding experience.”

On Oct. 26, 2004, Gonzalez was taken to Washington and installed in the Operation Firewall command center at Secret Service headquarters. He corralled the Shadowcrew targets into a chat session.

At 9 pm, agents began knocking down doors. By midnight, 28 people across eight states and six countries had been arrested, most of them mere feet from their computers. Nineteen were eventually indicted.

It was by some estimates the most successful cybercrime case the government had ever carried out.

The day after the raids Secret Service technicians defaced Shadowcrew’s home page with a photograph of a shirtless, tattooed tough slouching in a jail cell. The text said, “Contact your local United States Secret Service field office … before we contact you!”

“I did find the investigation exciting,” Gonzalez told me of turning against Shadowcrew. “The intellectual element. Unmasking them, figuring out their identities. Looking back, it was kind of easy, though. When someone trusts you, they let their guard down.”

He did say, however, that he “actually had a bad conscience” about it. “I had a moral dilemma, unlike most informants.” On another occasion, when he was discussing the same subject, Gonzalez wrote to me in a letter, “This distinction is very important … my loyalty has always been to the black-hat community.”

By the time Gonzalez returned to Miami after Operation Firewall, in late 2004, he was already exploring the vulnerability of corporate wireless networks.

Gonzalez was especially intrigued by the possibilities of a technique known as “war driving”: Hackers would sit in cars or vans in the parking lots of big-box stores with laptops and high-power radio antennae and burrow through companies’ vulnerable Wi-Fi networks.

Gonzalez reconnected with Christopher Scott – an old friend from an Internet relay chat network, EFnet, frequented by black hats_ who was willing to do grunt work. Scott began cruising the commercial stretches of Route 1 in Miami, looking for war-driving targets.

His experiments at BJ’s Wholesale Club and DSW met with success. He stole about 400,000 card accounts from the former, a million from the latter. He described the breaches and passed card numbers to Gonzalez.

The following summer, Scott parked outside a pair of Marshalls stores. He enlisted the help of Jonathan James, a minor celebrity among Miami black hats for being the first American juvenile ever incarcerated for computer crimes.

Scott cracked the Marshalls Wi-Fi network, and he and James started navigating the system: They co-opted logins and passwords and got Gonzalez into the network; they made their way into the corporate servers at the Framingham, Mass., headquarters of Marshalls’ parent company, TJX; and they located the servers that housed old card transactions from stores.

International syndicate

By the end of 2006, Gonzalez, Scott and James had information linked to more than 40 million cards. Using similar methods, they hacked into OfficeMax, Barnes & Noble, Target, Sports Authority and Boston Market, and probably many other companies that never detected a breach or notified the authorities.

At the same time that Gonzalez was stealing bank-card data, he was assembling an international syndicate. His favored fence was a Ukrainian, Maksym Yastremskiy, who would sell sets of card numbers to buyers across the Americas, Europe and Asia and split the proceeds with him.

Gonzalez hired another EFnet friend, Jonathan Williams, to cash out at ATM’s across the country, and a friend of Watt’s in New York would pick up the shipments of cash in bulk sent by Williams and Yastremskiy.

Watt’s friend would then wire the money to Miami or send it to a post office box there set up by James through a proxy. Gonzalez established dummy companies in Europe, and to collect payment and launder money he opened e-gold and WebMoney accounts, which were not strictly regulated.

Finally, he joined up with two Eastern European hackers known to him only by their screen names, Annex and Grig, who were colluding to break into American card-payment processors – the very cash arteries of the retail economy.”I’ve been asking myself, why did I do it?”

Gonzalez told me over the phone from prison recently. “At first I did it for monetary reasons. The service’s salary wasn’t enough, and I needed the money. By then I’d already created the snowball and had to keep doing it. I wanted to quit but couldn’t.”

He claims his intentions were partly admirable. He genuinely wanted to help out Patrick Toey, a close friend and hacker who would later do much of the more sophisticated legwork involved in Gonzalez’s hacking into corporate networks.

Unlike Gonzalez and Watt, Toey, who is 25, had a rough upbringing. After dropping out of high school, he supported his mother and his younger brother and sister by hacking.

Gonzalez invited Toey to live in his condominium in Miami, rent-free. Gonzalez owned it, but he enjoyed living at home with his parents more.

He says he loved his mother’s cooking and playing with his nephew, and he could more easily launder money through his parents’ home-equity line of credit that way.

Gonzalez relished the intellectual challenges of cybercrime too. He is not a gifted programmer, but by all accounts he can understand systems and fillet them with singular grace. I often got the impression that this was computer crime’s main appeal for Gonzalez.

SECOND AND FINAL PART NEXT WEEK
James Verini is a writer in New York.

SOURCE: http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/magazine/The%20hacker%20who%20went%20into%20the%20cold/-/434746/1057458/-/a94au1z/-/index.html

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Move over yahoo, google, hotmail; Facebook Messages is here

Posted by Administrator on November 23, 2010

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg looks on at a past news conference at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California. He is one of the youngest billionaires Photo/AFP

Since the heyday of Africa Online, America Online and Hotmail’s cheery “You’ve got mail” greeting, e-mail has been central to the online experience for millions of people.
But Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, says e-mail is showing its age. In his view, e-mail is too slow, too formal and too cumbersome, especially for young people who have grown up using text messages and online chats.

Zuckerberg has introduced a new unified messaging system for Facebook that allows people to communicate with one another on the Web and on mobile phones regardless of whether they are using e-mail, text messages or online chat services.

“We don’t think a modern messaging system is going to be e-mail,” he said.
The new service, Facebook Messages, is a bold move by Facebook to expand from a social network into a full-fledged communications system.

It could help the company chip away even more at Internet portals like Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL, which have used e-mail as one of their main draws with consumers.

Americans already spend more time on Facebook than on any other website, and more than 500 million people around the world have signed up for it.

Analysts say that if Facebook Messages proves successful, it could greatly increase the time users spend on the site, making Facebook even more dominant.

But some note that the company will face a number of challenges, like managing spam, getting users to change ingrained habits and persuading some to entrust their confidential e-mail to a company whose privacy practices have often drawn scrutiny.

The new service, which will encourage users to sign up for an e-mail address ending in @facebook.com, has the immediacy of instant messaging and chat built in. Zuckerberg sought to downplay the threat that Facebook Messages would pose to existing e-mail services.

“This is not an e-mail killer,” Zuckerberg said, adding: “We don’t expect anyone to wake up tomorrow and say they are going to shut down” their current e-mail accounts.

The service is invitation-only for now, and will be rolled out to all users over the next few months.
Some analysts said that over time users were likely to spend more time using Facebook Messages and less with their traditional e-mail services, especially as they communicate with their closest friends and associates.

“They just made it so much more compelling to centre my communications on Facebook rather than anywhere else,” said Charlene Li, an analyst with the Altimeter Group. “Google, Microsoft, Yahoo should all be worried.”

Li said that e-mail was already being “nibbled to death” by services like instant messaging and chat, and that Facebook Messages, if successful, would accelerate that trend.

Still, for more than a decade, technology companies have sought to offer services for “unified communications,” often without much success outside of the business market.

And other e-mail providers, including AOL, Google and Yahoo, have taken steps to make their e-mail services more “social,” by prioritising the messages of friends or integrating text messages.

“Just like it is not easy for traditional e-mail companies to compete in social, it is not going to be easy for social companies to compete with e-mail,” said Brad Garlinghouse, president of consumer applications at AOL, which last week unveiled a service that also allows consumers to consolidate e-mail and other messaging accounts in one place.

Garlinghouse noted that, for example, Facebook’s efforts to use connections between users to prioritise their incoming mail may be fraught with peril.

“I am not friends on Facebook with my accountant, with my doctor, or with United Airlines,” he said, but messages from any one of those sources could be urgent.

Zuckerberg said 350 million Facebook users already use its messaging service, exchanging more than 4 billion messages each day. The new Messages product will not require users to get a facebook.com address, but users who do not will not be able to receive messages from outside of Facebook.

Source: http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/business/-/2560/1057408/-/cdcl6lz/-/index.html

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Phone radiation debate that keeps haunting users

Posted by Administrator on November 18, 2010

Warnings contained in the documents of most BlackBerrys say users should not hold phones against their head. File

Warnings contained in the documents of most BlackBerrys say users should not hold phones against their head. File

A few years ago, avoiding radiation from mobiles was a popular theme in Kenya.

By 2005, sales of small shiny sticky earpiece gadget that ‘experts’ claimed protected users from harmful radiation rocketed as worried consumers moved to toe the line, lest they get affected by the poisonous rays.

Mysteriously, those sales figures have dropped over the years, despite the increased use of mobile phones in our society.

Radiation dipped back onto our radar screens earlier this year, when the ‘Red Call’ hoax — a scam that said subscribers who received calls whose numbers appeared in red text on their mobile screens would die instantly from radiation — pushed people into running amok.

Even the Government had to issue a statement assuring citizens all was well. Phew!

Nevertheless, the threat still exists and is very real, says a recent story by Randall Stross in the New York Times. Studies reveal that mobiles still pose a health threat to users, and many researchers are recommending that the gadgets should not be placed in pockets or under pillows as the proximity may lead to the formation of potentially harmful tumours or illnesses.

Worries centre around the specific absorption rate or SAR, which refers to the rate at which the human body absorbs energy from a radio frequency magnetic field.

These figures vary from phone to phone, with some popular models such as the Apple iPhone 3G, reportedly emitting some of the highest SAR levels for its category.

Some manufacturers are already working to educate their users about the risks, but you will have to read the fine print of in their manuals to get the in formation.

Warnings contained in the documents of most BlackBerrys, for instance, say users should not hold phones against their head, recommending a distance of around one inch be kept between the device and the ear at all times.

And this is worrying. That scientists warn children are more vulnerable to radiation than adults, with radiation that apparently penetrates only two inches into the brain of an adult reaching much deeper into the brains of toddlers. Because, they explain, their skulls are thinner and their brains contain more absorptive fluid.

Reassuringly, the most recent study on the topic — Interphone International Case-Control Study — found that, overall, there is no increase in risk of tumours observed with use of mobile phones.

There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma (a type of tumour) at the highest exposure levels, but biases and error prevent a causal interpretation. The study advised that the possible effects of long-term heavy use of mobile phones required further investigation.

Tricky spin

However, the sad part is that the study’s authors threw that hypothesis out of the window, saying in another online source that people who used mobile phones for more than 10 years doubled their risk of developing brain gliomas, which puts a sinister spin on the on-going celebrations of Kenya’s decade old mobile sector.

American telecoms regulator, the FCC, advises that the best way to avoid exposure is to hold the mobile “away from the head or body.”

Food for thought perhaps, for the local ICT Consumers Association and the River Road sellers of radiation protectors.

Source: http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Phone%20radiation%20debate%20that%20keeps%20haunting%20users/-/539444/1055404/-/item/1/-/nfs8khz/-/index.html

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Kenyan in US launches “twitter of dreams”

Posted by Administrator on November 15, 2010

Kim Muhota Founder and CEO of REMcloud. REMcloud is like a "twitter of dreams

Kim Muhota Founder and CEO of REMcloud. REMcloud is like a "twitter of dreams

By ANTONY KARANJA –Jambonewspot.com

When we have dreams at night, some of us usually shake them off when we wake up and get ready for the day. Kim Muhota however wants us to hold on to them a little bit longer and share them with the world.
 
REMcloud is like a “twitter of dreams.” It is being hailed by many tech-websites as a next generation website. Its Facebook page has over 1.4 million fans in little over 9 months. It provides users with an environment in which they share their dreams with the world and keep up with their friends’ dreams.
 
Though he started the Facebook page in February, Muhota the Founder and CEO of REMcloud officially launched the social networking site late last month.
 
Speaking to Jambonewspot.com, the US based Kenyan entrepreneur says the site enables its users to post a short account of their dreams in a similar fashion to Twitter, another social networking site.
 
Muhota who lives in Washington DC, says he decided to start this project after he observed his four and a half year old son for close to three years waking up every morning and narrating his dreams to his mother, former KTN News anchor Mukami Kinoti.
 
“I decided to start REMcloud because since my son was one and a half years old, he would walk into our room in the morning and start his day off by telling his mum and I about what he dreamt about at night.” Muhota said.
 
As this went on, Muhota and his wife started looking forward to finding out what their son dreamed about the night before.
 
Watching his son made Muhota wonder how many people would like to share dreams like his son does but may not have the avenue to do so. It was then that he knew he needed to a platform for people share their dreams.
 
When users post their dreams, REMcloud will analyze each keyword in the post and will then respond offering an automated interpretation of the dream. Muhota says that the interpretation relies on information selectively gathered from other websites that focus on dream interpretation. Some of the sites across the US that offer dream interpretations are Dream Moods and Dream Central.
 
Unlike Twitter which will only allow you to re-tweet a friends post, REMcloud gives its users the option to rate a friends dream, comment on a dream and offer your own interpretation of a friend’s dream.
 
 
Muhota who lives in Washington, DC believes that more features are on the way as his users increase. He believes that once he starts tracking a large number of dreams, he can then create a “mosaic of dreams.” This will be like a depository of human consciousness where the site tracks people who have the same dream especially in areas where certain events are happening. He points out area like Haiti which recently experienced and earthquake. The site will be showing “trending” or most popular dreams. He simply refers to this as dream aggregating.
 
Once users log on to the site, they will be able to view a stream of their friends’ dreams similar to Facebook’s “News Feed”. In the case of REMcloud, users will be viewing a “Dream Stream.”
 
40% of the site’s users are based in Asia, Europe and Latin America. Kenyans are also able to access the site as long as they have internet access.
 
“It is available to anyone whether in Nairobi or Frankfurt as long as you have internet connection.” Muhota says.
 
Muhota hopes to carry advertisements in the future but intends to utilize “intelligent in-context advertising” which is driven by relevance to a user’s dream. He does not intend to carry indiscriminate banners. He also hopes to offer subscription based services in the future after the site’s community establishes a certain behaviour on which he can build around.
 
Apart from REMcloud, Muhota previously founded a social lending company known as Pertuity Direct. Unfortunately, he had to stop all consumer lending operations due to the prevailing economic situation in the US.
 
According to this father of two, REMcloud will enable users to share unique experiences and he believes that sharing of dreams is a behaviour that needed a cohesive platform which he is now providing.
 
“Dreams are universal human experiences and whether it is a college freshman, middle aged man or woman or even soldiers, they all have unique dreams to share and REMcloud makes it easy to connect,” says Muhota.

Posted in Kenya_Technology | 2 Comments »

Kenya gets low-priced smartphone

Posted by Administrator on September 5, 2010

Models display the Huawei U8220 Android smart phone during its launch at a Nairobi hotel. Photo/FREDRICK ONYANGO

Models display the Huawei U8220 Android smart phone during its launch at a Nairobi hotel. Photo/FREDRICK ONYANGO

By Kui Kinyanjui

The quest for control of Kenya’s rapidly growing mobile Internet market has intensified with the launch by Chinese technology firm Huawei of a competitively priced smartphone that runs on Google’s Android operating system.

Retailing at just Sh8,000, the Huawei IDEOS is the cheapest smartphone in the Kenyan market and is expected to deepen the penetration of Internet among the estimated 20 million Kenyan consumers of mobile phone services.

Internet access has become the new battleground for Kenya’s four telecoms operators following the recent plummeting in voice call tariffs and the resulting decline in its importance as a revenue driver.

Kenya has six million Internet users a large portion (four million) of who accesses it through their mobile phones that is considered to be more affordable by most consumers because it cuts down the cost of acquisition to a tiny fraction of the closest competitors.

The smartphones, however, remains dominated by highly-priced models that sell at an average of Sh30,000 placing it above the reach of the majority of consumers.

“The IDEOS is an affordable option, designed to lower barriers to entry and facilitate easy mobile Internet access,” said Kevin Tao, the CEO of Huawei Device. “Ownership of the smartphone is one of the key means of getting people into the ‘golden age of mobile broadband’,” he said.

The IDEOS is a touch-screen phone that comes with bluetooth connectivity, GPS, a 3.2-megapixel camera, up to 16GB of storage and can be transformed into a 3G Wi-Fi hotspot connecting up to eight devices.

Many Kenyans are more familiar with Huawei modems, which they use to connect to the Internet through PCs or lap tops.

The IDEOS is the latest in a string of devices the Chinese firm has rolled out aiming to capture a share of the growing consumer internet market.

Smartphones are expected to account for 37 per cent of the global mobile phone market by 2014, with the Middle East and Africa as the main drivers of the growth.

Mobile Internet access is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 39 per cent in the next four years.

In Kenya, mobile Internet use grew by over 180 per cent in past 12 months, according to consumer research firm Synovate.

The IDEOS’ entry into Kenya comes only two months after Huawei teamed up with Safaricom in high profile launch of yet another smartphone U220 that also runs on Google’s Android.

This time around, there is industry speculation that the new phone will be marketed by internet firm Google, which is today launching its big marketing push aimed at boosting its presence in Kenya.

Google’s Android operating system allows users to ride on its Open Source development platform, offers users more than 70,000 applications and a cheap alternative to Google’s Nexus originally developed to compete with Apple’s iPhone.

Google is expected to unveil the key components of its mobile Internet strategy at the opening of the G-Kenya conference, where the global Internet giant will engage with local software developers, entrepreneurs, and computer science students.

Google is also expected to showcase a range of products aimed at driving innovation in local technology and business circles.

“In alignment with our core mission to organise the entire world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, we would like to provide training on localised tools that can spur economic development for the people of Kenya,” Google said in a statement.

G-Kenya is expected to bring together over 1,200 software engineers, product managers, entrepreneurs, students and web developers to discuss the future of applications development, and be trained on Google’s products and online business skills.

The forum will feature high profile Google speakers including one of the internet giant’s vice presidents Nelson Mattos, a team of product developers, engineers, the head of marketing for Africa, search specialists, and business marketing gurus.

Mr Mattos is Google’s VP in charge of product and engineering.

Google entered the Kenyan market in 2007, but has mostly played an observer role even as the country deepened its foray into new technologies such as mobile Internet.

The path of internet access growth in Kenya has been largely determined by the lack of fixed PC internet connections that has forced the consumers to rely on their mobile phones.

Industry researcher RNCOS says the number of mobile subscribers in Kenya will grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 15 per cent between 2010 and 2013 to reach 32 million by the end of 2013, representing a penetration rate of 72 per cent.

Kenya is said to be on the verge of becoming one of the fastest growing broadband markets in the continent, RNCOS says, with research pointing to the number of Internet users and broadband subscribers growing at a rate of nearly 130 per cent in the next two years.

Voice dialling

Available in black, yellow, blue, and purple, the IDEOS supports functions such as voice dialling, voice navigation, and the ability to run applications off the SD card.

Mr Tao said the name “IDEOS” embodies creativity and inspiration: the “ID” represents the industrial design-centric hardware platform, the “OS” represents the operating system as the core software platform, and the “E” symbolises the evolution to mobile Internet.

Source: Business Daily

Posted in Kenya_Technology | 2 Comments »

Social sites pose threat to security

Posted by Administrator on May 19, 2010

Kenya now has over two million registered users on Facebook. Photo/FILE

Kenya now has over two million registered users on Facebook. Photo/FILE

By WINFRED KAGWE
Posted Wednesday, May 19 2010 at 16:01

Despite their popularity especially among the youth, social networking sites pose the greatest threat to internet security.

Players estimate that by the end of the year, social media users will be the most vulnerable to different forms of cyber crime.

These are such as fraud, identity theft, spread of malware and even physical harm following updates on ones profile.

Mr Collin Mamdoo, chief operating officer of Internet Solutions (IS) said common cases of invitations from people with dubious names or receiving suspicious links is a cause of alarm.

“Local companies may be forced to put in measures such as blocking these applications to shut out unwanted browsing traffic to keep their systems safe,” he said.

Mr Mamdoo spoke in Nairobi during a seminar to address questions around internet security and how to protect organisations from attacks.

According to a recent research by Synovate, Kenya now has over two million registered users on Facebook only, this is 79 per cent of the total local internet users.

The number has doubled over the last two years meaning more people will get exposed soon.

More risks lie in usage of mobile phones now in the hands of about 20 million people.

Right basics

Despite these risks, Kenya is short on the regulatory, knowledge and technology foundation front to fight cyber threats.

“If we do not have the basics right, this broadband is going to hurt a lot of companies and individuals,” said Mr Jayson Finlayson, director of operations, Security risk Solution limited.

With four African countries already in the top 10 global figures on the FBI cyber crime list, Mr Finlay predicts that the increased usage of fibre optic cable could put Kenya on the list in the next two years time.

“In the short term, we are going to get worse on internet insecurity, experience an upsurge in cyber fraud as there are no mature rules yet,” he said.

Source: Daily Nation

Posted in Kenya_Technology | Comments Off on Social sites pose threat to security

 
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