It’s no longer news that the world witnessed a high-profile cyberattack on Twitter this week, a development many described as the latest and most significant breach in the social-media company’s history.
Though the hack, which is currently being investigated by the FBI, apparently targeted mainly celebrities, politicians and billionaires like Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Kanye West among others, by making their accounts post tweets they didn’t compose, it raises questions about the security of Twitter for everyday users.
According to a Wall Street Journal, below are guides for Twitter users concerned about whether it’s safe to stay on the platform:
What happened in the hack?
* Twitter said it believes the hackers carried out their attack by targeting employees who had access to the company’s internal systems and tools. In response, the company also restricted some users’ ability to tweet or reset passwords, among other account actions. The company on Thursday said its investigation is continuing.
How can everyday users enhance the security of their Twitter accounts?
* One way is to implement two-factor authentication, which requires a user to input a password and a security key as an extra layer of security to log in.
To do this for Twitter, click “more” on the side menu, then “settings” and “privacy.” Tap “Two-factor authentication” and choose either text message, authentication app or security key.
Keep in mind this won’t help much, though, if the entire platform is hacked. Twitter said Thursday it had no evidence that attackers accessed passwords and didn’t believe users needed to reset their passwords.
Users of Twitter or any online platform should plan ahead in the event of a hack, said Sean Kanuck, chief of consulting firm Exedec International LLC and former U.S. national intelligence officer for cyber issues. For example, consider creating a list of emails or phone numbers for key people in your network to quickly alert in case of a breach.
He also recommends taking screenshots of any tweets or direct messages that you want to keep secure.
For users still worried about security, forgoing Twitter might make sense, Mr. Kanuck said.
“There is no such thing as a fully secure computer, app or network,” he said. “Ask yourself, what is your risk tolerance? What’s at stake?”
If hackers were able to access people’s direct messages, would end-to-end encryption help protect Twitter users?
* End-to-end encryption prevents anyone from seeing users’ messages other than the recipient, including the platforms on which they’ve been sent. The technology can be found in apps such as Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp and Apple Inc.’s iMessage, but Twitter’s direct-messaging system doesn’t have it.
Twitter has said it was investigating whether hackers accessed users’ information beyond making bogus posts.
That said, one way Twitter users can safeguard their messages from landing in hackers’ hands is to delete them as soon as they’re no longer needed, said Jeremiah Grossman, chief of Bit Discovery Inc., a firm that provides digital asset inventory services.
Twitter has the ability to access those messages, as well as any third-party applications to which a user has granted account access, he said. But once deleted, it would be difficult for most hackers to see them.
Will the most recent hack change how companies, public agencies, organizations or individuals use Twitter?
Cybersecurity analysts say the social-media platform is likely to learn from the incident and improve platform security following the hack. That could help bolster confidence of users, which range from companies to public-safety agencies, that rely on Twitter to share information with the public.
Mark Ostrowski, head of engineering at security firm Check Point Software Technologies Inc., said he expects Twitter to ramp up employee training on how to avoid phishing scams as well as to reduce the number of employees with access to information of value to hackers.
Late Wednesday Twitter said it was moving in this direction, tweeting: “Internally, we’ve taken significant steps to limit access to internal systems and tools while our investigation is ongoing.”
Given the popularity of social-media platforms—Twitter had 166 million daily users as of the first quarter of this year—it’s unlikely that people or businesses will stop using them, said Mr. Ostrowski. “It’s a tough thing to change overnight,” he said. Social media has “become part of our daily routine.”
An exception might be users who are sensitive to privacy, such as advocacy groups, schools and law enforcement. These groups will likely be more careful moving forward.
Facebook Oversight Board to review decision to suspend Trump’s account
The decision to suspend Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts will be examined by an oversight board.
Facebook’s Oversight Board has received a proposal to revisit the decision to indefinitely suspend former US President, Donald Trump’s access to Facebook and Instagram.
On January 7, Facebook suspended Trump’s account indefinitely, a decision reached when he incited a violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol, leaving the country shaken.
Nick Clegg, Facebook VP of Global Affairs and Communications said that the circumstances around Trump’s suspension was an unprecedented set of events that called for unprecedented action and also explained why the Oversight Board would review the case.
“Our decision to suspend then-President Trump’s access was taken in extraordinary circumstances: A U.S. president actively fomenting a violent insurrection designed to thwart the peaceful transition of power; five people killed; legislators fleeing the seat of democracy,” Clegg said. “This has never happened before — and we hope it will never happen again.”
The oversight board was established last year to make the final call on some of the most difficult content decisions Facebook makes. It is an independent body and its decisions are binding — they can’t be overruled by CEO Mark Zuckerberg or anyone else at Facebook. The board itself is made up of experts and civic leaders from around the world with a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives.
According to the Oversight Board, a five-member panel will evaluate the case soon with a decision planned within 90 days. Members will decide whether the content involved in this case violated Facebook’s Community Standards and values. They will also consider whether Facebook’s removal of the content respected international human rights standards, including freedom of expression.
Trump’s case is a big moment for how impactful the board’s decisions will really wind up being. If the board overturns Facebook’s decision, that decision would likely kick up a new firestorm of interest around Trump’s Facebook account, even as the former president recedes from the public eye.
What you should know
- Following the violent attack of the US Capitol building by Trump supporters, Facebook announced the suspension of Trump’s account indefinitely, on allegations of inciting his supporters.
- YouTube also suspended Trump’s channel and removed new content uploaded by Trump’s campaign, citing potential threats of violence.
- Twitter announced it has permanently suspended Trump, citing the risk of further incitement of violence.
- Jack Dorsey, the CEO and founder of Twitter, in his statement, said that the decision to ban Trump from the social network was the right decision, but one that sets a dangerous precedent.
African tech startups raise over $700 million in 2020 despite pandemic
African tech startups raised more funding from more investors than ever before in 2020 despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite the Covid-19 outbreak, African tech startups raised a record high of $701.5 million from investors in 2020. This is according to the African Tech Startups Funding 2020 report released by Disrupt Africa.
According to the report, 2020 was a record year for investment into the African tech startup ecosystem, with more startups raising more money, from more investors than ever before.
Specifically, 397 startups raised $701.5 million in total funding in 2020, indicating a 27.7% and 42.7% increase compared to 311 startups that raised $491.6 million in the previous year.
Highlights of the report
- The number of startups that received investments in 2020 grew by 217.6% compared to 125 tech startups in 2015, when the first edition of the report was published.
- Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt remain emphatically Africa’s “big four” from a funding perspective, accounting for 77% of funded startups and 89.2% of total investment.
- Nigeria (85), Egypt (82) and South Africa (81) lead the way from the perspective of the number of ventures.
- However, when it comes to total combined raised capital, it is Kenya that is Africa’s leader, with startups from the East African country raising over US$190 million in funding in 2020.
- The financial technology sector was the most attractive to investors in 2020, with more startups securing funding than any other sector and a combined total that dwarfed all others
Though these markets remain clear leaders, there are signs of growing activity elsewhere on the continent, with startups backed in 24 African countries, up from 19 in 2019, 20 in 2018, and 18 in 2017 respectively.
Meanwhile, a recent report by Nairametrics revealed that African startups raised over $1 billion in funding in 2020, with Nigerian startups raising 17% of the total amount. The report showed a list of notable startups that raised funds in the year, some of which include; Flutterwave, 54gene, Aella Credit, Helium Health, Kuda Bank amongst others.
Why this matters
- Nigeria recorded significant growth in the number of startups securing funding in 2020, as the country saw a 77% increase compared to 2019. This is a welcomed development, as it indicates that the Nigerian tech space is on an upward trajectory.
- More businesses will look to explore the tech industry considering the growing attention received by investors in recent times.
Top 10 Nigerian tech companies and capital raised in 2020
These are the top 10 tech companies and the capital they raised in 2020.
These are the top 10 rankings of the highest fundraisers for 2020.
The startup provides digital payments infrastructure and services which enable global merchants, payment service providers, and pan-African banks to accept and process payments across various channels.
It raised a $35M Series-B round led by US venture capital firms Greycroft and eVentures in January 2020. The funding was invested in technology and business development to grow market share in the countries it operates in.
The startup is equalizing precision medicine by including underrepresented Africans in global genomics research. It raised $15M in a Series A funding round in April 2020 led by Adjuvant Capital – a life sciences fund backed by the International Finance Corporation, Novartis, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
These new funds will be used to address the gap that exists in precision medicine for people on the African continent.
The startup is a one-stop app for all your financial needs. Aella makes it super easy for anyone to borrow, invest, and make payments. It secured a $10 million debt financing round from a Singaporean company – HQ Financial Group.
The new capital raised from Singapore is expected to facilitate the credit company’s effort to provide financial inclusion to many more of the people who are currently unbanked across Nigeria, West Africa, and other emerging markets.
The startup has become the leading provider of full-service technology solutions for healthcare stakeholders in Africa. It raised a $10 million Series A round in April 2020.
Global Ventures and Africa Healthcare Master fund (AAIC) co-led the investment round. Helium plans to use the latest funding round to hire and expand to North and East Africa, including Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Morocco.
The startup provides a full banking service on your smartphone. It secured a US$10 million seed round in November 2020 – the biggest seed round ever to be raised in Africa, led by Target Global with participation from Entrée Capital and SBI Investment.
The funding will be used to help accelerate its growth plans and keep up with customer demand. Specifically, funds will be used for key hires, product development, and to expand operations across Africa.
The startup is a Nigerian B2B eCommerce company that utilizes an end-to-end distribution platform aimed at connecting the world’s top consumer goods companies directly to retailers in Africa.
It raised $10-million in a pre-Series B equity round co-led by Partech, International Finance Corporation, Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), and MSA Capital in July 2020.
The new investment will enable Trade Depot to continue connecting international brands with small businesses in Nigeria, expand into other African cities, launch a suite of financial products, and credit facilities aimed at supporting its retailers.
The startup is helping governments and businesses make good on the promise of healthcare in the fastest-growing parts of the world by making the pharmaceutical supply chain radically simple, affordable, and easily accessible.
It raised a $3.6 million Series A round in March 2020, led by Blue Haven Initiative, with investors including Newtown Partners via the Imperial Venture Fund and Accion Venture Lab.
The investment will be used to scale Shelf Life expansion throughout Nigeria and Kenya, as well as the development of additional services for Shelf Life clients and their patients.
The startup connects suppliers to hospitals and pharmacies directly to make the pharmaceutical supply chain more efficient. The health start-up raised $3.5M in a seed funding round in December 2020. It will use this funding to expand to other African countries.
The company is an automotive technology company that aims to build solutions for the African market. It raised $3.4 million in pre-seed funding round in November 2020, co-led by TLcom Capital and 4DX with inclusion from Golden Palm Investments, Lateral Capital, Kepple Africa Ventures.
Auto Chek will use the investment to grow its Nigerian and Ghanaian markets, invest in its tech, and grow its team.
Despite the ravaging impact of Covid-19, Nigerian tech start-ups raised millions of dollars in funding. We hope to see more investors in the first quarter of 2021.
The startup allows qualifying companies throughout Nigeria and West Africa to start selling Power-as-a-Service (PaaS) to their customers.
It raised $3 million from Proparco, with the support of the European Union under the Africa Renewable Energy Scale-Up facility (ARE Scale-Up). The funding will be used to contribute to facilitating energy access in the context of a significant and growing energy gap in Nigeria and support the development of innovative solar energy solutions.