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26-04-2017
Singapore launches online digital marketing course for SMEs

AVADO, in cooperation with SPRING Singapore, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), and Google, has launched an online digital marketing course aimed at anyone working in SMEs.Aligned with the Singapore government’s “SMEs Go Digital Programme,” Squared Online for SMEs equips businesses with the knowledge and skills to boost their in-house digital marketing capabilities.The programme builds off the established Squared Online programme for large enterprises which has attracted over 1,000 students in 18 countries in Asia Pacific, including 450 students locally from organisations like Mediacorp, Prudential, iProspect, and American Express.Delivered online and through three exclusive face-to-face workshops over 24 weeks in an interactive setting, the participants will engage in pre- and post-class activities and weekly one-hour live classes.Participants will be able to access the live classes from the Virtual Campus online, while the face-to-face workshops will be held at Google office in Singapore.The live classes are conducted by expert tutors from around the Asia Pacific region, coupled with discussions, videos, polls and breakout sessions. In addition, students participate in forums and discussions on the Virtual Campus, and collaborate on hands-on group projects based on real-life business challenges.The expert tutors specialise in topics such as Search Engine Marketing, Social, Mobile, and Analytics.The face-to-face workshops are an exclusive element introduced just for Singapore SMEs.They will feature a smaller group of participants – around 40 participants per session – and will cover themes such as Data, Social and Culture, which are useful for SMEs to learn and apply at work.The workshops will be led by expert speakers such as Simon Kemp from We Are Social.The modulesParticipants will go through five modules:Embracing change – The impact of digital on the customer journey, marketing strategy and business models Digital trends – A look at the landscape trends that have redefined consumer behaviour Digital channels and strategy – How brands deliver marketing strategies using digital channels Data, analytics and insights – Using analytics and data to evaluate your marketing effort and generate insights Staying ahead of the curve – How advancements in technology will continue to evolve the way businesses operateFour out of the five modules include virtual group projects. Students will develop leadership skills, share knowledge and draw upon their own work experiences while learning from others. No examsThere will be no examinations. Instead, students are continually assessed via project work, self-reflection, team feedback and completion of online activities. Personal reflection and group feedback are crucial to students’ learning experience as they receive constructive feedback from teammates to be even more effective leaders.After graduating from the programme, students and alumni can stay connected via LinkedIn to peers with diverse knowledge and skill sets to complement their own.The programme is open to anyone working in SMEs, and follows the entrance criteria similar to the ongoing Squared Online programme - applicants should have a university or polytechnic degree, or three or more years of work experience, ideally in marketing or digital, and should have a good understanding of the English language. In some cases where the entrance criteria is not met, applicants can still be awarded a place if they demonstrate the mindset to become an agent of change.Course feesThe programme will be conducted at S$3,300 (excluding GST) per participant. Course fees funding (excluding GST) for this programme is available under IMDA’s TechSkills Accelerator - Critical Infocomm Technology Resource Programme Plus (CITREP+ ).Eligible trainees who successfully complete the programme may claim up to 70% of the course fees. SMEs sponsoring their employees who are Singapore Citizens may claim up to 90% of the course fees upon successful completion.After graduating from the programme, students and alumni can stay connected via LinkedIn to peers with diverse knowledge and skill sets to complement their own.Applicants should have a university or polytechnic degree, or three or more years of work experience, ideally in marketing or digital, and should have a good understanding of the English language. In some cases where the entrance criteria is not met, applicants can still be awarded a place if they demonstrate the mindset to become an agent of change.120 participants per cohort can take part, with the goal to train a total of 1,000 business leaders by 2019. Companies that have signed up for the first cohort include: established optical retail chain Nanyang Optical; menswear retailer Benjamin Barker and Quantum Safety Network, a supplier of occupational safety products. 

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26-04-2017
Mastercard launches biometric card combining chip tech and fingerprints

Mastercard has unveiled a biometric card that authenticates a cardholder’s identity via the combination of chip technology with fingerprints.The new card builds on fingerprint scanning technology used for mobile payments today and can be used at EMV terminals worldwide. The card works with existing EMV card terminal infrastructure and does not require any new hardware or software upgrades.A cardholder can enrol their card by registering with their financial institution. Upon registration, their fingerprint is converted into an encrypted digital template that is stored on the card. The card is now ready to be used at any EMV card terminal globally.When shopping and paying in-store, the biometric card works like any other chip card. The cardholder simply dips the card into a retailer’s terminal while placing their finger on the embedded sensor. The fingerprint is verified against the template and if the biometrics match, the transaction can then be approved with the card never leaving the consumer’s hand.For issuers, the technology aims to help detect and prevent fraud, increase approval rates, reduce operational costs and foster customer loyalty. Additionally, a future version of the card will feature contactless technology, adding to the simplicity and convenience at checkout.South Africa is the first market to test the new technology, with two separate trails recently concluded with Pick n Pay, a supermarket retailer in the country, and Absa Bank, a subsidiary of Barclays Africa. Over the next few months, additional trials will be conducted with the biometric card. A full roll out is expected later this year.Additional trials are being planned in Europe and Asia Pacific in the coming months.

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26-04-2017
National Bank of Canada acquires 22% shares in Myanar’s ONGO

National Bank of Canada (NBC) has acquired 22% shares in Myanmar-based mobile payments firm ONGO. Terms of the deal are not being disclosed.ONGO is the consumer facing brand of Ronoc Asia, a subsidiary of the emerging markets investment business Ronoc. It offers retailer payments solutions, payroll programs and direct to consumer services leveraging payments technology.“The addition of National Bank of Canada is an important milestone for our business. We have aggressive growth plans for Myanmar and have set ourselves a goal of providing over one million consumers with access to finance over the next three years,” said Michael Madden, the Founder and Chairman of Ronoc Asia/ONGO. “The addition of NBC as a strategic investor will strengthen our capabilities and accelerate our timelines in Myanmar as well as our expansion to other markets in the region.”“National Bank of Canada is proud to become a partner of Ronoc Asia/ONGO. This investment in fintech complements the activities we already have in the ASEAN zone through our subsidiary ABA Bank, in Cambodia,” stated Louis Vachon, President and Chief Executive Officer of National Bank of Canada. “We look forward to contributing to ONGO’s success.”ONGO currently employs over three hundred people in Yangon and is expected to grow to five hundred by year end.

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26-04-2017
Visa partners Singapore FinTech Association, local schools to cultivate talent

Visa has joined hands with local schools and the Singapore FinTech Association to nurture future talent through a series of engagements with students from the five polytechnics in Singapore.This initiative was introduced after the polytechnics, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Nanyang Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Singapore Fintech Association in February this year.The joint initiative aims to build a steady pipeline of talent in the Fintech space to cope with demand and provide a gateway for students to make their first foray into the industry.As part of this partnership, students will have the opportunity to engage with payments experts from Visa, and visit the Visa Innovation Lab, where they can learn about the future of payments and challenges in the payments landscape. A number of Visa employees will be assigned as mentors to these students to allow interactive learning.Modules related to FinTech and the payments industry will be conducted at Visa’s learning centre - Visa University. Finally, students will participate in a business case challenge to round up their learnings.Ooi Huey Tyng, Visa Country Manager for Singapore and Brunei said: ““We are very excited to collaborate with the local polytechnics and Singapore Fintech Association to launch this corporate partnership programme, designed to build a STEM talent pipeline.  We have reached out to various schools in the Polytechnics such as School of InfoComm Technology, which are predominantly male-centric to increase female representation in this industry. Through this initiative, students will attend learning sessions conducted by Visa representatives and be involved in business case challenges.”Clarence Ti, Principal of Ngee Ann Polytechnic, is heartened to see the upsurge in innovation labs and workshop opportunities for polytechnic students. “We are excited that Visa’s subject matter experts are conducting workshops for polytechnic students. This is a great initiative for them to stay ahead of the FinTech game, in order to meet the industry’s demands,” he added.“We are encouraged by Visa’s support of our strategic efforts to nurture home-grown talents in FinTech," commented Hock Lai Chia, President, Singapore Fintech Association.  "The Innovation Lab visits help students to experience technology in real-life use cases, improving the delivery of financial products and services. The mentorship provided by the payment practitioners from Visa will be invaluable to the students in their pursuit of FinTech skillsets.”  

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26-04-2017
IBM, NUS join hands for fintech and blockchain training

The National University of Singapore (NUS) School of Computing and the IBM Center for Blockchain Innovation (ICBI), a part of IBM Research, are partnering to jointly develop a financial technology module to encourage students’ skillsets in this area.The new module on financial technology is expected to be introduced in January 2018, and will focus on blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. It seeks to equip students with an understanding of the fundamentals of the technology behind distributed ledgers, and its diverse use cases, from banking to digital currencies to supply chain managementNUS faculty members will co-develop the curriculum of the new module with IBM researchers at ICBI to enable students to learn about the latest developments in blockchain technology, and encourage them to contribute to developing the technology further. The module will be co-taught by NUS academic staff and ICBI staff who will use financial technology software such as Hyperledger Fabric, one of the five projects under the Hyperledger umbrella, to deliver the course content. Such software will also be made available to NUS researchers for research purposes. Under the collaboration, ICBI will provide technology support in the form of access via the IBM Cloud to the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain framework. IBM is an early contributor to Hyperledger, a Linux Foundation project, which now contains more than 129 member organizations. Blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, is a distributed database of transactions shared across a network of trusted entities. Blockchain helps create greater accountability, transparency and potentially trust for all transactions and is currently being used in business applications across industries including banking and financial services, supply chain and logistics and retail. According to studies by IBM’s Institute of Business Value, banking, healthcare and government are investing heavily in blockchain and commercial solutions are expected to be in place in the next few years.IBM research shows:Fifteen percent of banks and 14 percent of financial market institutions interviewed by IBM intend to implement full-scale, commercial blockchain solutions in 2017. 65 percent of banks are expecting to have blockchain solutions in production in the next three years. Healthcare institutions are going all-in – investing heavily in blockchain pilots, with nine in ten respondents planning to invest by 2018 across all business areas IBM surveyed them about.-  Nine in ten government organizations surveyed plan to invest in blockchain for use in financial transaction management, asset management, contract management and regulatory compliance by 2018.“Our collaboration with ICBI marks yet another important milestone in our continuous efforts to bring industry relevant knowledge to our classrooms and at the same time inculcate technological responsibility in our students by spearheading the development of financial technology in Singapore, as the nation strives to become one of the world’s key digital financial hubs. The new module forms part of the newly enhanced Information Systems degree programme in which a new specialization in Financial Technology has been introduced. We are confident that our graduates will be well-prepared for the wide-ranging career opportunities in this fast-growing sector,” said Associate Professor Hahn Jungpil, Head of the Department of Information Systems at NUS School of Computing. “Blockchain is one of the most disruptive technologies in computing today, and it is impacting many industries including financial services, trade, healthcare and supply chain. This collaboration with the National University of Singapore School of Computing will help prepare a future workforce that is born on blockchain, ready to implement, improve and innovate: core skills required for Singapore to achieve its vision as a Smart Financial Centre and Smart Nation,” said Robert Morris, Vice President Global Labs, IBM Research.  

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26-04-2017
Citi India launches paperless cross-border payments for corporates

Citi India has launched new digital cross-border payment solution that eliminates the need for multiple, underlying physical documents for cross-border trade payments. The solution aims to substantially reduces time, effort and cost of each transaction by facilitating quicker trade payments. With Open Account import payments, Citi’s clients can now directly share import payment information with the bank, by simply quoting Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) Import Data Payment and Monitoring System (IDPMS) number, as against the earlier process of sharing multiple documents to support a single payment. This function will be made available on Citi’s online banking platform CitiDirect BE® for clients to initiate and authorize payments.Citi India worked closely with the Government of India and leveraged RBI’s IDPMS platform that digitally tracks imports to develop this solution, with the aim to reduce for cross-border payments to less than three hours from the earlier same day processing.Debopama Sen, Head of Treasury and Trade Solutions, Citi South Asia said, "This is a huge step towards simplifying cross-border trade payments which significantly improves efficiencies for our customers and enhances the digital experience.”Sanjay Bhargava, Director, CFO and Company Secretary for Sony India who has already adopted the new solutions, said, “We are pleased to partner and implement paperless import payments through Citibank. This will strategically help us to manage things better from our existing voluminous process of physical record keeping. It is always great to automate and streamline manual processes.”Citi India handles trade transactions for over 6,000 large, medium and small corporates across industries. 

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26-04-2017
NUS and IBM to develop blockchain training in Singapore

The National University of Singapore (NUS) School of Computing and the IBM Center for Blockchain Innovation (ICBI) are collaborating to jointly develop a module on financial technology, to better equip students with essential knowledge and skill sets in this area.Blockchain is a fast growing area across the globe, with banking, healthcare and the government leading the way in terms of adoption. According to studies by IBM's Institute of Business Value, these three industries are investing heavily in blockchain and commercial solutions are expected to be in place in the next few years.The Singapore government's strategic goal to become a Smart Financial Centre has put focus on blockchain for Singapore. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has committed S$225 million (US$157 million) over a five-year period to provide support for the creation of a vibrant fintech ecosystem. Among the projects that have been backed by the scheme is a decentralized record-keeping system based on blockchain technology aimed at preventing duplicate invoicing in trade finance.The new module on financial technology is expected to be introduced in January 2018, and will focus on blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. It seeks to equip students with an understanding of the fundamentals of the technology behind distributed ledgers, and its diverse use cases, from banking to digital currencies to supply chain management. NUS faculty members will co-develop the curriculum of the new module with IBM researchers to enable students to learn about the latest developments in blockchain technology, and encourage them to contribute to developing the technology further. The module will use financial technology software such as Hyperledger Fabric to deliver the course content. "Our collaboration with ICBI marks yet another important milestone in our continuous efforts to bring industry relevant knowledge to our classrooms and at the same time inculcate technological responsibility in our students by spearheading the development of financial technology in Singapore, as the nation strives to become one of the world's key digital financial hubs. The new module forms part of the newly enhanced Information Systems degree programme in which a new specialization in Financial Technology has been introduced," said Associate Professor Hahn Jungpil, Head of the Department of Information Systems at NUS School of Computing."Blockchain is one of the most disruptive technologies in computing today, and it is impacting many industries including financial services, trade, healthcare and supply chain. This collaboration with the National University of Singapore School of Computing will help prepare a future workforce that is born on blockchain, ready to implement, improve and innovate: core skills required for Singapore to achieve its vision as a Smart Financial Centre and Smart Nation," said Robert Morris, VPGlobal Labs, IBM Research. 

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26-04-2017
Dubai government to build blockchain payments platform

Smart Dubai Office has signed an MOU with Avanza Solutions to implement a citywide blockchain-based payments platform.The MOU signing is in line with Dubai's vision to be the first Government in the world to execute all applicable transactions on the blockchain by 2020.Smart Dubai Office plans to roll out the blockchain platform, known as Cipher, across all its existing 38 partner government entities, partner financial institutions and departments to set up the first blockchain-based building block within its financial plumbing. The platform will enable each of these entities to process instant payment payments and reconciliations across the Cipher network, to create a streamlined process for more efficient and effective service.Earlier this year, as part of the Dubai Future Accelerators program, Avanza Solutions’ blockchain platform was selected to deliver a pilot project to provide an instant reconciliation and settlement platform to Smart Dubai Office.Aisha Butti bin Bishr, Director General, Smart Dubai said, “I am confident that Avanza Solutions’ expertise in payment solutions combined with their Cipher blockchain platform, will support the Smart Dubai Office with technology that not only bridges current gaps but also becomes a vital piece in Smart Dubai’s roadmap for payment processes in the near future.” 

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25-04-2017
Ooyala partners with Adobe for digital TV transformation

Ooyala today announced a new partnership with Adobe to combine the company’s Integrated Video Platform (IVP) solutions with the Adobe Experience Cloud. This move will allow media and entertainment companies to build best-of-breed digital TV and OTT solutions for greater engagement, measurement and to recognize greater returns with video.The partnership will allow customers to leverage Ooyala’s complete set of IVP solutions to build collective insights across video production, distribution and advertising processes, while tapping into Adobe’s TV-delivery and monetization technologies. Ooyala is currently used by companies such as Sky, Media Prima and Star India in the region.Adobe first took the wraps off the Adobe Experience Cloud in March, a comprehensive set of cloud services designed to give enterprises everything they need to deliver exception customer experiences. The Adobe Experience Cloud encapsulates existing products such as the Marketing Cloud, Adobe Analytics Cloud, as well as the just announced Adobe Advertising Cloud.“Video is unquestionably the crux of the digital transformation for the global media and entertainment market,” said Kevin Towes, Adobe’s Media and Entertainment head of business development.“As Ooyala leverages Adobe technology, we can help media companies achieve their transformation faster, with greater video monetization, engagement and measurement,” said Towes.“Modern media companies with large audiences and real skin in the game need better insights and technologies to recognize greater return on their video business,” said Belsasar Lepe, the co-founder of Ooyala and senior vice president of products and solutions.“Pairing our IVP solutions with Adobe gives even more insight into analytics and measurement, building common data sets across every function of video all with a single goal – to grow your business,” he said.Further reading:Adobe Advertising Cloud seeks to bridge gap between TV and digitalAdobe Experience Cloud launchedAPAC premium OTT market cued for exponential growth

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25-04-2017
Trend Micro launches new security tool for small businesses

Trend Micro Incorporated is enhancing protection of small business endpoints by leveraging its newest capabilities of XGen security, including machine learning, inside Trend Micro Worry-Free Services.XGen security infuses machine learning into a blend of threat protection techniques to protect against threats across any user activity and endpoint. It constantly learns, adapts and automatically shares threat intelligence across the platforms and applications that matter most to customers.Trend Micro's XGen security approach for small businesses uses methods that quickly identify benign data and known threats, freeing its smart advanced techniques, such as application control, exploit prevention, behavioral analysis, sandboxing and machine learning, to more quickly and accurately identify unknown threats.Trend Micro “infuses high-fidelity” machine learning into its approach -- uniquely analyzing files both before execution and at runtime, using 'noise cancellation' features like census checking and whitelisting to reduce false positives. All of these capabilities are fueled by the market-leading, cloud-based global threat intelligence of the Trend Micro Smart Protection Network, which supplies rapid response updates when a new threat is detected, enabling faster time to protection."Small businesses are not immune to the 500,000 new, unique threats created every day, In fact, Trend Micro saw a 752 percent increase in new ransomware families that ultimately resulted in $1 billion in losses for organizations worldwide in 2016," said Partha Panda, vice president, corporate and business development for Trend Micro. "These threats and attacks can disrupt operations and require costly fixes and manpower to correct. Advanced security protection is critical to ensure small businesses vigorously defend against today's cyber attacks and those to come in the future."    

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25-04-2017
Synology launches NAS storage solutions for SMBs

Synology Inc. has launched DiskStation DS1517+ and DS1817+ together with the Expansion Unit DX517. The 5-bay and 8-bay tower servers offer a network-attached storage solution for tech enthusiasts and small/medium-sized businesses.The exciting new feature in DS1517+ and DS1817+ is the inclusion of a PCIe slot, which allows users to install an optional 10GbE network interface card or Synology's new M2D17 M.2 SATA SSD adapter. In addition, DS1517+ and DS1817+ both come in 2GB and 8GB memory configurations, which can be upgraded to 16GB thanks to the easily accessible memory compartment.Installing an additional network interface card allows enthusiasts and businesses to take advantage of up to two 10GbE ports to boost maximum throughput.When combined with the Intel Atom quad-core 2.4GHz processor and equipped with optional dual channel memory, DS1517+ and DS1817+ can deliver sequential throughput performance up to 1,179 MB/s reading and 542 MB/s writing speeds.With the introduction of Synology's new M2D17 PCIe adapter card, DS1517+ and DS1817+ can be equipped with dual M.2 SATA SSDs, allowing users to enhance performance and latency using SSD caching without occupying the front drive bays."DS1517+ and DS1817+ offer tech enthusiasts and small businesses more storage options that bring outstanding performance and flexibility for intensive storage tasks," said Jason Fan, Product Manager at Synology Inc. "DS1517+ and DS1817+ are Synology's first two NAS supporting M.2 SSD, designed to solve the performance bottleneck for heavy workload applications and significantly reduce the I/O latency.”Both DS1517+ and DS1817+ support connecting up to two DX517 expansion units, allowing users to add up to 10 additional drive bays and scale up storage capacity on-the-fly. The RAID volume can be expanded without having to reformat the existing hard drives, ensuring seamless capacity expansion without downtime.DS1517+ and DS1817+ are powered by DiskStation Manager (DSM) 6.1, the versatile and intuitive operating system for Synology NAS devices. Featuring a wide range of applications for backup, network management, and productivity, DS1517+ and DS1817+ can serve an integral role in office IT infrastructure.DS1517+ and DS1817+ both carry 3-year limited warranties. An additional extended warranty option is available in selected regions for up to five years of coverage.

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25-04-2017
CyberRx and Wapack Labs launch partnership to strengthen SMB cybersecurity

CyberRx and Wapack Labs are announcing a strategic partnership to improve cybersecurity among small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).The CyberRx software platform helps U.S. and international businesses to assess their cyber capabilities within the Cybersecurity Framework, developed by the National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST), industry, and government partners.Wapack Labs claims it provides early warning cyber-threat detection, and cyber threat intelligence and analysis for nearly 7,000 organizations worldwide. The SMB offering comprises the companies’ software platforms in one portal, and the outsourced services of both firms.“This strategic partnership with Wapack Labs is ground-breaking for SMBs who need access to affordable cybersecurity risk management solutions,” said Ola Sage, CyberRx CEO, who also chairs the national IT Sector Coordinating Council (IT SCC), which works in a public/private partnership with the Department of Homeland Security to address cybersecurity threats and risks to critical infrastructure.Jeff Stutzman, Wapack Labs CEO, who spent many years working at the Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center added, “One of the reasons our partnership is timely is because many SMBs don’t have access to early warning cyber threat intelligence, so being able to combine our solution with CyberRx’s risk management platform now gives SMBs information on which they can act.”

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24-04-2017
Delhi leads in Internet Readiness among states in India

Delhi leads in Internet readiness, according to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Nielsen. In the report titled Index of Internet Readiness of Indian States, Delhi has overtaken last year’s winner Maharashtra and is followed by Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. According to the report, Delhi has won top spot because of its superior e-infrastructure and e-participation. Releasing the report, Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeiTy), Government of India said: “We are hopeful that India will leapfrog from the present 155th position to world’s top 5th in connectivity, within the next 5-6 years. India today is one of the most rapidly digitising economies in the world with the telecom industry leading the change. Things have improved multifold with state governments of Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana among others taking proactive steps to improve connectivity and internet reach.” “The combination of various indigenous digital platforms along with innovative and disruptive startups holds the greatest scope for digital transformation in India. Post demonetisation, the country today has 3 million POS as compared to 1.5 lakhs POS earlier which is clearly a transformation and going forward, the infrastructure for digital payments will grow 3X within a span of one year,” she added. The North East has ranked low in terms of overall Internet readiness. Much more needs to be done in the form of investment and infrastructure development in the region. Among the north eastern states, Nagaland tops the list, closely followed by Manipur and Tripura. Nagaland leads in IT environment and performs moderately well in other categories to get to the top. Internet readiness index is a composite benchmark of four components: e-Infrastructure index, e-Participation index, IT-Environment and government e-services index. All four components have equal weightage in this model. Separately, a fifth Index (named the Core Internet Index) has been created this year, consisting of select variables already used in constructing the above indices. The purpose of the index is to give a sharper perspective for digital industries looking to expand their business in India.

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23-04-2017
Hong Kong retailers see turnaround in the horizon

The PwC Total Retail Survey 2017 noted that 40% of surveyed consumers in Hong Kong use their mobile to make a purchase once a month.Reading the introduction to the report “PwC Disruptive Face of the Retail and Consumer Products Sector in China and Hong Kong” you’d be forgiven into thinking that China and Hong Kong are heading for dark days as China’s economy slows and with it, the fate of Hong Kong.But the consultant actually says adjustments being taken by the city’s retailers and consumer companies bode well for a bright future, including the proliferation of different O2O models, a raft of price and product portfolio changes and a different high street shop mix may actually spell growth throughout the forecast period (2016-2020).This is a sentiment reflected by the Hays Quarterly tracker report which projects a positive outlook for the coming quarter. The Hays Quarterly Report tracks recruitment trends in Hong Kong and reveals that over the April to June period, a range of quality roles are coming to market for retail professionals.“At the end of last year many retail professionals were predicting a slump in turnover for 2017 and thus a shortage of quality opportunities coming to market, but in reality the sector is gaining strength,” says Dean Stallard, regional director for Hays in Hong Kong.“The current market is stable and employers are creating a number of quality new positions, which will hopefully prevent experienced talent leaving the sector to join other industries they perceive to offer greater employment security,” he adds.“Certainly, e-commerce management roles should be plentiful this quarter. Candidates should note that many companies are focused on increasing their market share regionally and looking to their e-commerce talent to help make this happen.”Hiring the right digital marketing talent is also crucial to companies achieving regional success through greater brand awareness. As a result, Hays expects to see more opportunities for digital marketers in the retail sector over the quarter.In the more traditional end of retail recruitment, we are seeing a number of frontline in-store roles coming to market and this is expected to continue throughout the quarter.“For all roles, employers are placing greater importance on a candidate’s soft skills and will test accordingly during the recruitment process, so its important candidates are well prepared for interviews,” says Dean.“Certainly, retail is becoming more sophisticated and in response, we are seeing a number of senior candidates undertaking a master’s degree in business management or completing more general management courses to boost their promotion prospects,” he says.“Junior candidates are also taking on additional training in their own time. However, many are also moving jobs frequently to achieve career advancement and this could work against them as the recruitment market strengthens,” concludes Dean.

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23-04-2017
Versatile banking Trojan caught in the wild

Need a light? Be warned a new Flashlight widget available on Google Play is a banking malware in disguise. As it turns your smartphone into a flashlight, it will start to siphon off victims’ banking credentials by infection apps installed on the phone.Based on commands from its C&C server, the Trojan.Android/Charger.B trojan can display fake screens mimicking legitimate apps, lock infected devices to hide fraudulent activity and intercept SMS and display fake notifications in order to bypass 2-factor-authentication.It is a backward compatible app so it works on all versions of Android.How it worksIn a nutshell: the malware obtains HTML code based on apps installed on the victim’s device and uses the code to overlay the apps with fake screens after they’re launched.It’s more cunning than that though. As soon as the app is installed and launched, it requests device administrator rights. Users with Android 6.0 and above also need to manually permit usage access and drawing over other apps. With the rights and permissions granted, the app hides its icon, appearing on the device only as a widget. The actual payload is encrypted in the assets of the APK file installed from Google Play, evading detection of its malicious functionality. The payload is dropped, decrypted and executed when the victim runs the app. The Trojan first registers the infected device to the attackers’ server. Apart from sending device information and a list of installed applications, the malware gets up close and personal with its victims – it also attaches a picture of the device owner taken by the front camera. If the sent information indicates the device is located in Russia, Ukraine or Belarus, the C&C commands the malware to stop its activity – most likely to avoid prosecution of the attackers in their home countries. Based on the apps found installed on the infected device, the C&C sends corresponding fake activity in the form of a malicious HTML code. The HTML is displayed in WebView after the victim launches one of the targeted apps. Legitimate activity is then overlaid by a fake screen requesting victim’s credit card details or banking app credentials. However, like we mentioned before, specifying what apps qualify as “targeted” is tricky, as the requested HTML varies based on what apps are installed on the particular device. During our research, we’ve seen fake screens for Commbank, NAB and Westpac Mobile Banking, but also for Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Play. The credentials inserted into the fake forms are sent unencrypted to the attackers’ C&C server. As for the device locking, we suspect this function enters the picture when cashing out the compromised bank accounts. The attackers can remotely lock devices with a fake update lookalike screen to hide fraudulent activity from victims, as well as to ensure they can’t interfere. To communicate with C&C, the Trojan misuses Firebase Cloud Messages (FCM), which is the first time we’ve seen Android malware using this communication channel. Based on our research, the app is a modified version of Android/Charger, first discovered by Check Point researchers in January 2017. Unlike the first version that primarily extorted victims by locking their devices and demanding ransom, the attackers behind Charger are now trying their luck with phishing for banking credentials – an evolution rather rare in the world of Android malware. With its fake login screens and locking capabilities, Android/Charger.B also bears some resemblance to the banking malware we discovered and analyzed in February. What makes this latest discovery more dangerous, however, is the fact that its target can be dynamically updated, as opposed to being hardcoded in the malware – opening unlimited options for future misuse.Good and bad newsThe good news is that it was pulled out of the Google Play store on April 10 but as it was uploaded on March 30, ESET estimates up to 5,000 users may have been victimized by the app.To find if you are infected, ESET suggests to go to Setting > Application Manager/Apps > Flashlight Widget.While locating the app is simple, uninstalling it is a whole another story. The trojan tries to prevent getting uninstalled by not allowing victims to turn off the active device administrator – a necessary step for removing the app. When trying to deactivate the rights, the pop-up screen doesn’t go away until you change your mind and click “activate” again.In such a case, the app can be uninstalled by booting your device into Safe mode, which will enable you to go through the two steps of removing the malicious app.Play safeTo avoid dealing with the consequences of mobile malware, prevention is always the key.Whenever possible, opt for official app stores when downloading apps. Although not flawless, Google Play does employ advanced security mechanisms to keep malware out, which doesn’t have to be the case with alternative stores.When in doubt about installing an app, check its popularity by number of installs, ratings and, most importantly, content of reviews. After running anything you’ve installed on your mobile device, pay attention to what permissions and rights it requests. If an app asks for permissions that don’t seem adequate to its function – like device administrator rights for a Flashlight app – you might want to rethink your choice.Last but not least, use a reputable mobile security solution to protect your device from latest threats.Feature photo courtesy of iStockPhoto Caption: photo courtesy of iStockphoto

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CyberLink Vol.103 March 2017

Cyberport collaborates with the Government in staging the 2nd edition Internet Economy Summit 2017

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CyberLink Vol.102 February 2017

Cyberport’s popular Career Fair returns on 4 March

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CyberLink Vol.101 Chinese New Year Special Edition

Message from the CEO

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