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NCDMB Names 15 Semi-Finalists for Science Tech Competition

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NCDMB Science Tech Competition

By Adedapo Adesanya

A total of 15 teams have emerged as regional semi-finalists in the first Nigerian Content Science and Technology Innovation Challenge (STIC) for higher institutions in Nigeria.

The competition, which was opened in November 2020, is sponsored by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and implemented by Enactus Nigeria.

The semi-finalists were picked from higher institutions across the country, five respectively from the North, West and South/Eastern regions.

Each team in the competition is made up of two undergraduates and their schools include University of Ilorin, University of Jos, Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Federal University, Dutse, Usman Danfodio University, Tai Solarin University of Education, University of Ibadan, Yaba College of Technology.

Other successful institutions are Anchor University, Lagos, Babcock University, Cross River University of Technology, Niger Delta University, Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Alex Ekwueme Federal University and Federal University of Technology, Owerri.

According to the Country Director of Enactus Nigeria, Mr Michael Ajayi, the semi-finalist teams will now advance to the ‘proof of concept’ stage of the competition, where each team will be given N500,000 to develop a functional prototype of their innovative ideas.

According to him, “these will then be presented to a panel of judges at the in-person regional final competitions which will be held in the Northern, Western region and the South/East region respectively.

“During this event, the representatives of the participating institutions will be expected to demonstrate, using their functional prototypes, how their proposed innovation works to solve identified problems and also demonstrate to the panel of judges how the innovation will continually create opportunities for job and wealth creation if accelerated and transformed into business ventures.”

A total of six regional finalists – two from each region will emerge from the 15 teams after the regional competition and will proceed to a one-week bootcamp where seasoned business development professionals from reputable organisations will work with NCDMB and Enactus Nigeria to mentor the six finalists to test their assumptions and perfect the business cases for their innovations.

“This strategy is a necessary step towards ensuring that the students’ innovations transition into full-fledged profitable enterprises that will create jobs for Nigerians, while creating sustainable wealth,” Mr Ajayi said.

The Nigerian Content STIC is an enterprise-development program designed to challenge undergraduates of all accredited Nigerian tertiary institutions to stretch their ingenuity and apply science & technology, to create home-grown, innovative, and technologically driven business solutions that address some of the Country’s most pressing everyday problems, accelerate reverse-innovation and create wealth, while also providing job opportunities for the growing numbers of the unemployed people in Nigeria.

The Country Director confirmed that the process of arriving at the 15 teams for the regional semi-final was very rigorous. He stated that a panel of 63 individuals from diverse fields, ranging from business development to information technology, business strategy and social enterprise development committed over 156 man-hours to complete a three-stage screening process over a period of three weeks.

Apart from the handsome money for the winning team, the NCDMB will also award N20 million investment towards the development of a research and development centre in the institution that the winning undergraduates represent.

The online portal for the competition was open from November 19, 2020, until January 31, 2021, during which time a total of 511 entries were received from undergraduates in 129 tertiary institutions across all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Data Breaches in Nigeria Increase 64% in Q1 2023

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Data breaches in Nigeria

By Adedapo Adesanya

Data breaches in Nigeria increased by 64 per cent, as 82,000 leaked accounts were recorded in the first three months of the year when compared with the last quarter of 2022.

This made Nigeria the 32nd most breached country in the world in the first three months of this year, according to the latest data from cybersecurity company, Surfshark, collected through its independent partners from 29,000 publicly available databases and aggregated by email addresses.

Globally, data breaches declined in the first quarter of 2023, with a total of 41.6 million accounts breached. This is almost 50 per cent less than the nearly 81 million seen in Q4’2022.

The increase in Nigeria’s data breaches moved the country from the previous position of 41 to 32, with around 50,000 breaches recorded in Q4 2022.

Russia was ranked 1st in the world (6.6 million), followed by the United States (5 million), Taiwan (3.9 million), France (3.2 million), and Spain (3.2 million), making the top five.

Taiwan saw the highest quarter-over-quarter increase (21x), placing its total of 4 million leaked accounts 3rd in Q1’2023. The country had only placed 26th in Q4 2022 with 191,000 breached users.

Globally, data breaches declined, dropping to one user account leaked every second in Q1 2023.

“According to Surfshark’s study, data breaches declined globally in the first quarter of 2023 if we compare it to the previous one,” says Agneska Sablovskaja, Lead Researcher at Surfshark. “However, the fact that over 40 million accounts were breached in just a few months is still a cause for concern. Those whose data was compromised are at an increased risk of being targeted by cybercriminals as their personal information can be utilized for phishing attacks, fraud, identity theft, and other serious cybercrimes.”

Surfshark showed that Europe was the most affected region by breaches in Q1’2023, followed by Asia and North America.

In the period under review, Europe was also the only region with a significant quarter-over-quarter increase in its statistics on data breaches. The number nearly doubled, growing from 9.9 million in Q4 2022 to 17.5 million in the first three months of 2023. To put this into perspective, 2 out of 5 accounts breached in Q1 2023 were of European origin, with 38 per cent of these being Russian. Within the region, the biggest quarter-over-quarter spikes in data breaches were recorded in Czechia (almost 9x), Armenia (around 6x), and Switzerland (6x).

Asia was the second-most vulnerable region, accounting for around a fourth of the quarter’s breaches (10.6M). The three countries that saw the highest quarter-over-quarter increase overall were all Asian — Taiwan and Saudi Arabia both had around 20 times more leaked accounts in Q1’2023 than in Q4’2022, while South Korea saw its number increase 12 times.

An additional 13 per cent of the accounts were North American (5.3 million). All other regions comprised less than 5 per cent of the quarter’s total. Out of all regions, Africa saw the greatest quarter-over-quarter decrease — a whopping 33 times, bringing its total of 18.6 million leaked accounts in Q4 2022 down to 557,600  in Q1 2023.

Some of the biggest breaches by email count were Sberbank (Russia), with 2.9M accounts leaked, Weee! (United States) with 1.1M, and Zurich Insurance (Switzerland) with 756,700.

The ten most breached countries of Q1’2023, in descending order, are Russia, the U.S., Taiwan, France, Spain, India, Czechia, South Korea, and Italy. The highest growth in user victims was spotted in Taiwan (21x), Saudi Arabia (19x), South Korea (12x), Czechia (9x), and Armenia (7x).

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WhatsApp Now Allows Users Edit Messages

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WhatsApp Worldwide users

By Adedapo Adesanya

The social messaging platform, WhatsApp, has announced that rather than users deleting chats in case of a typo, they can now make simple edits.

The edited messages will have an “edited” tag next to the time stamp to mark the change, and other users won’t be able to see the previous versions of edited messages.

The Meta-owned platform, through its chief executive officer, Mr Mark Zuckerberg, first noted the development in a Facebook post, revealing that users can now modify a message within 15 minutes of sending the message.

If users want to do this, they can press and hold on to a message and tap on the edit option to alter the message.

“We’re excited that you’ll now have more control over your chats, such as correcting misspellings or adding more context to a message. For this, within 15 minutes of sending the message, you have to tap and hold that message for a while and then select the option of ‘Edit’ from the menu,” the company said in a blog post on Monday.

This will be good for users that want to correct a simple misspelling or those that want to add extra context to a message.

“We’re excited to bring you more control over your chats. All you need to do is long-press on a sent message and choose ‘Edit’ from the menu for up to fifteen minutes after,” WhatsApp said.

As with all personal messages, media and calls, messages and the edits made are protected by end-to-end encryption.

This feature has started rolling out to users globally and will be available to everyone in the coming weeks.

Rival platform, Telegram, has always allowed for edits and users can do so for a time frame of 48 hours.

Last week, the platform announced that users can now lock and hide conversations as part of privacy measures using biometrics or a special code.

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Technology

WhatsApp Launches Chat Lock to Hide Conversations

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WhatsApp Chat Lock

By Adedapo Adesanya

Social conversation platform, WhatsApp, has announced a new feature that will allow users to lock and hide conversations.

The new feature called Chat Lock will remove a chat thread from the app’s regular onscreen inbox and place it into a new folder that can only be opened by a password or biometric, such as facial recognition or a fingerprint.

Calling it “one more layer of security”, Meta – WhatsApp’s parent company – added that Chat Lock would protect “your most intimate conversations” and hide notifications from them.

“Over the next few months, we’re going to be adding more options for Chat Lock, including locking for companion devices, creating a custom password for your chats so that you can use a unique password different from your phone’s,” Meta wrote in a blog post.

“Locking a chat takes that thread out of the inbox and puts it behind its folder that can only be accessed with your device password or biometric, like a fingerprint. It also automatically hides the contents of that chat in notifications, too,” the past announced.

Users can lock chat by tapping the name of a one-to-one or group and selecting the lock option. To reveal these chats, users will need to slowly pull down their inbox and enter their phone password or biometric alternative.

“We think this feature will be great for people who have reason to share their phones from time to time with a family member or those moments where someone else is holding your phone at the exact moment an extra special chat arrives,” Meta added.

This is the latest feature since it fortified its mobile application with three new security features to protect the personal messages of its users.

Also, it announced that has started allowing in-app payment in Brazil last month.

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