Why you should care about being digitally secure

SAFE AND SOUND?: At the Internews station, Power Reporting delegates got the chance to have their software and anti-virus checked for safety. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

SAFE AND SOUND?: At the Internews station, Power Reporting delegates got the chance to have their software and anti-virus checked for safety. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Hackers  pose the threat of defacing media organisations or putting news sources at risk.  Besides surveillance by mobile companies and internet service providers, digital safety is most threatened by using pirated software, followed by spam.

Pirated software creates “weaknesses or vulnerabilities” and create an “open window” for hackers, said Dylan Jones from international non-profit organisation Internews.  Surveillance technology poses a greater threat to journalists than regular citizens because journalists collect and work with information.

Pirated software is most well-known as programmes for which the users download and do not pay for. However, some journalists may be using pirated software without even realising it if their devices are set up by others. This puts them, their sources and their work at risk.

Surveillance technology can track your physical location, the calls you make and messages you send and to whom.

Surveillance technology can track your physical location, the calls you make and messages you send and to whom.  It can cause financial loss and theft to individuals, companies and government and journalists can lose years of work, said Jones.

Zimbabwean journalist Winstone Antonio said he was aware of telephone hacking, but he was not sure about the extent to which it happened, or how he could become a victim or the measures to protect himself.  Antonio says as a journalist he is most concerned about “protecting his sources.”

Antonio said he knows using pirated software poses a threat to his work and tries to get a specialist to check his devices regularly.For journalists and delegates at the Power Reporting Conference, Internews set up a work station to check if their mobile devices and laptops have genuine software.  The station offers the free service of updating software with genuine programmes.  Additionally the anti-virus software is checked.

“You can’t trust a pirated anti-virus to protect against malware,” said Jones.

Previously Antonio relied on using strong passwords to protect the different accounts on his devices.  Since attending the session on how to be digitally secure, he learnt that “encryption of data” could be useful in helping him protect his sources.  This works by encoding the data before it is sent to a cloud archive like Google Drive.

“You need to have a secure foundation before you do anything else,”said Jones.  Encrypting data on devices is amongst the most important protection measures.

Apple products and Android devices come with encryption settings to protect data.  However, a lot of countries have laws against using encryption, saidJones.

Jones also suggests practical ways to keep your digital accounts and movements secure.  These include using “real” software and anti-virus applications, updated programmes and two-step verification to protect accounts.

Unnecessary information or messages, photos and videos should be cleared from your device.  Using a password is more effective than a four-digit pin or a swipe-pattern and fingerprint technology.

Although, these solutions are not perfect, they are better than not having any safety measures at all.

This article was featured in the Wits Vuvuzela

Wits Soccer shoots for Nationals

HECTIC HEADER: During soccer practice at Diggs fields on Tuesday, Wits team captain Tebogo Digoamaje said he is confident in his team’s performance for their upcoming semi-final match against Tuks in the USSA Gauteng League, where a top three spot will get them to nationals. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

HECTIC HEADER: During soccer practice at Diggs fields on Tuesday, Wits team captain Tebogo Digoamaje said he is confident in his team’s performance for their upcoming semi-final match against Tuks in the USSA Gauteng League, where a top three spot will get them to nationals.
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

If the Wits men’s soccer team beat Tuks, Pretoria University’s log leaders, next week, it will go through to the national finals of the University Sports South Africa (USSA) tournament in December.

Through this possible win at next week Tuesday’s match, Wits would attain one of the top three positions in the Gauteng USSA League and would then qualify for the national tournament to be held in Durban, in the first week of December.
Meeting for the second time with their opponents, Wits University football coach Karabo Mogudi said his men were more than prepared for Tuks.

Cruising through competition

“They are good football players; they play high intensity football which is a strong point for them. I’ve prepared the team to play the same as well. They must bring it on because we know we [are] going to bring it too,” said Mogudi.

Wits thrashed Tuks with a 3-1 win the last time there was a face-off between the two in August. Mogudi is confident his team could win against them again, even though the match is in Pretoria, on their rival’s home turf when they duel on Tuesday, September 23.

The rankings so far are as follows: Tuks first, Vaal University of Technology (VUT) second, Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) third and Wits, in fourth place.

Attaining a position in the top eight of the USSA national champs will then qualify Wits for the Varsity Football league. They did not qualify last year.

The team should be the star. I don’t want individualism … if the team wins, the players shine. It’s that simple.

Wits team captain Tebogo Digoamaje, 2nd year BSc Property Studies, who joined the team last year felt that their performance this season was better because the squad was bigger. About 25 players are registered for the USSA Gauteng League. Last year the smaller team battled without squad rotations between games.

Digoamaje revealed that past lost matches were due to mistakes they had made, rather than their opponent’s performance.

Unshakable confidence

However, he had “full respect for every opponent” they played against. In preparation for their game against Tuks, he said, “We’ve implemented a number of strategies, various ones, and the coach will decide which will lead us to victory and get us to nationals.”

Left wing Neo Makua, 3rd year BSc Quantity Surveying, felt confident that the team will go through to national championships. “The coach made us become a team, so we put the team before the individual.”

Although there are strong individuals playing, Mogudi emphasised team play rather than individual stars. “The team should be the star. I don’t want individualism … if the team wins, the players shine. It’s that simple,” he said.

Mogudi is confident in the team’s tactics and credits his technical team, which consists: assistant coach Dumisani Thusi, goal-keeper coach Kgabo Ditsebe and team manager, Sanele Nene for developing new ideas and strategies for success.

This article was featured in the Wits Vuvuzela

Hope for Witsie homeless

WORK, SLEEP, REPEAT: Applied Drama MA student Limpho Kou reenacts a “sleeping” situation amongst Witsies working and studying in the CNS labs in Senate House, to draw their attention to the issue that their peers live and sleep in computer labs and libraries on campus. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

WORK, SLEEP, REPEAT: Applied Drama MA student Limpho Kou reenacts a “sleeping” situation amongst Witsies working and studying in the CNS labs in Senate House, to draw their attention to the issue that their peers live and sleep in computer labs and libraries on campus. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

A new project to create awareness about homeless students sleeping in campus libraries and computer labs, is gaining attention.

The project was spearheaded by a Wits master’s student, as part of her academic research. It aims to give voice to students living in computer labs and libraries on campus.

The hope is that through exposing this on-going issue, there would be some solutions by the Wits community to help those who do not have the financial means for proper accommodation.

Creating awareness

As part of a project for theatre as activism, education and therapy, masters in applied drama student Susie Maluleke chose the topic as she remembers seeing students sleeping in the CNS labs on campus since first year.

The project plan consists of hosting workshops at the project sites: the computer labs and libraries, to ask students whether they know that their peers use the same space for sleeping or living.

Additionally, with the help of classmates, Maluleke will put up displays of make-shift sleeping spots, “I’m going to provide a blanket to create a sleeping display, but not a comfortable sleeping place to make people realise the space is used for different purposes.”

Maluleke identified the students through their “huge bags”.

“You could see these people weren’t living anywhere outside that space.”

At the time Maluleke felt there was nothing she could do, but now she has an opportunity to address the issue by creating dialogue around it and find help for these students by talking about it.

A friend of hers knew someone who spent two years living and sleeping in the labs, “because they didn’t qualify for financial aid from NSFAS”. Students struggle to afford accommodation off campus and transport costs for places outside Johannesburg are also hard to cover.

You get to go to Wits but you might not be able to afford to eat or live.

Maluleke had a friend who was sleeping in the computer labs because she could not afford to pay for taxi services from Wits to Soweto every day. “They don’t have bus services, they don’t have scholarships.”

She was particularly struck by the fact that there was no visible information in labs indicating where students could seek help. “It saddens me. There must be something that can be done about these people.”

Impacting campus

Lecturer Cherae Halley who gave the students the project as part of their course said they were required to find a community or site to address a social issue for their final year project. In previous years, students raised awareness about the sexual assault by lecturers on students, according to Halley.

Even though this is course work, this project could possibly help the homeless students, through raising awareness.

Her supervisor Anthony Schrag commended Maluleke for taking on a local and context specific project that resonated with national issues. “We have these positions of privilege that people sort of access but not really access. You get to go to Wits but you might not be able to afford to eat or live.”

The project is only in its beginning stages and will continue until the end of the semester. However, Maluleke hopes the impact of the project will be big enough to continue even after she graduates. She hopes that Wits would create a body for students to go to for help.

She does, however, know of a student in the same situation who received help from Wits Services.

“She is trying to challenge those departments and challenge them to do more about it. If she makes an impact future students that arrive here might not find themselves here, said Schrag.

Maluleke will only know how successful the project is once it is complete. “Success for me will be creating dialogue within those spaces. Make people engage or talk.” Schrag agreed, “With art you don’t really know until you do it.”
Halley sees the potential of the project to grow and impact the Wits community.

This article was featured in the Wits Vuvuzela

Woman in power

Photo: Roxanne Joseph

Photo: Roxanne Joseph

Prianka Padayachee, 4th year BSc Mining Engineering, is the first female president of the Students Mining Engineering Society on campus.  About 40% of the School of Mining Engineering is made up of female students.  Both males and females voted for her to take up the position.

What is it like being a female president in a male-dominated faculty?

It’s difficult, obviously.  It takes a lot of getting used to, especially because the guys in the school were not used to it.  But over time it has become more acceptable for women to be in leadership.

Would you call yourself a feminist?

I wouldn’t say I’m a feminist but I do believe there shouldn’t be a division in what women can and can’t do.  You don’t need to be anti-men to be pro-women.  Women should start believing in their abilities.

Why did you choose to do engineering?

I was always interested in the sciences and practical work, and getting my hands dirty.  I never saw myself sitting in an office for the rest of my life.

What are some of your most notable achievements?

Well, apart from being the first female president of the Students Mining Engineering Society, last year I was chosen to be the main liaison between the school and the [then] minister of mineral resources, Susan Shabangu, for the mining conference hosted at Wits.  I was chosen by the school to deal with the minister, discussing anything she needed to know.

What was that experience like, working with someone with such a high standing in society?

It was an eye-opener.  It’s so easy to sit in front of a TV and judge someone’s work.  Mining is no longer just about getting minerals and metals out of Earth.  It involves politics and many other factors that govern the industry as a whole.

What are some of the false perceptions women have about engineering?

It’s really not a dirty job.  It’s not necessarily “unfashionable”, you won’t always get grease under your nails.  It’s not only for men.  There is another side of engineering.  It is logical, creative and innovative and women tend to excel in those fields.

Who inspires you?

Khanyisile Kweyama, a business director at Anglo American.  She is in a top position and she makes important decisions about mining.  She is the perfect representation of the influence women have in mining.

This article was featured in the Wits Vuvuzela

SLICE OF LIFE: Sense and sensibility

“I come here with no expectations, only to profess, now that I am at liberty to do so, that my heart is and always will be yours.” –  Edward Ferrars, in Sense and Sensibility.

Jane Austen ruined us … or rather Emma Thompson did, with that exceptional screenplay.  We expect men to profess exactly what they mean when it comes to love. We expect them to be expressive.

Women. We always seem to take it to the extreme when it comes to our affections.  If it’s not too much, it’s too little. It’s never in between.  Either way, you are almost certain to come across as “crazy”.  I hate that.

I hate that a conversation with a guy is never just a conversation with a guy.  And I hate that we are blamed for over-thinking statements like “you’re brilliant”, or “you look lovely” or “you get me”.  I hate that we are prone to misreading those “harmless” words and actually thinking a guy might like us.  We were seriously misinformed by those Drew Barrymore films.

IMG_1453online

The flipside is having your guard up all the time.  This is my favourite default.  Sure, being risk averse is boring, but it is safe.  You will not be the one lying on the bathroom floor, wiping tears away on a Friday night because you finally realised that “he’s just not that into you”.  (That movie ruined us too, by the way).

You will, however, be the shoulder on which your damaged friend leans while you hand her a Kleenex.  And you will be relieved that you are not her, for one night.

Every other night, you see, you’ll be attending parties alone.  Banquets and weddings included.  (Gay best friends are not as abundant as one would think).  And it’s not some hard-core act of supreme feminism.  It is excruciatingly awkward.

I know because I have had to answer questions like: “Where is your date?” or “Don’t you have a boyfriend?” or “Have you considered becoming a lesbian?” And I have had to watch purses. I am the official PURSE GIRL.  It is not cool to be the purse girl, unless you’re Tina Fey.

I’m so sorry for all those guys out there who do not have any balls.

I wouldn’t know how it is for guys, but I have heard (from a guy) that approaching a girl with a “big” personality and intellect is quite daunting.  Apparently it’s much easier to forego that girl for a less intimidating one.  Gee … I’m so sorry for all those guys out there who do not have any balls. (Not really, it would be a disservice to humanity if they had the opportunity to procreate).

So the rest of us are in a catch-22 situation.  You can’t wear your heart on your sleeve, but you can’t wear your “go-away” face either.

I like to consider what Mindy Kaling would do.  Only because she’s a Hollywood leading lady of colour, who happens to be a graduate from Dartmouth College (I know, right! She’s talented and smart) and is in denial about her weight.  Also she dated BJ Novak, so she makes good choices.  Unfortunately, I don’t have her on speed dial.

So the next sensible thing to do is this: don’t create unrealistic expectations or manufacture relationships in your head.  A conversation with a guy is just a conversation with a guy.  And a compliment from a guy is a just compliment from a guy.

Also, do not do this:

Elinor Dashwood:  “Did he tell you that he loved you?”

Marianne Dashwood: “Yes … No … Never absolutely.  It was every day implied but never declared.”

This article was featured in the Wits Vuvuzela

‘Teamwork makes the dream work’

Wits’ women basketball players have outshone their male counterparts in the 2014 season, taking gold in the national league and tying for first place in the provincial league.

The women’s team, Wits Lady Bucks, is now regarded as “the best university team in the country for the 2014 season”, according to team captain Modiegi Mokoka, 3rd year BSc Construction Studies.  The team won the University Sports South Africa (USSA) basketball national championships in July.

Team work

Since then, the team has continued competing in the Gauteng Women’s Basketball League and the Gauteng University Basketball League (GBUL), in which they tied with the Vaal University of Technology for first place.

The men’s team came third in their division in the USSA national championships.

This year, the women’s team adopted a “win at all costs” system as opposed to the “everyone must play” approach of previous years, said Mokoka. Their successful performance this year was attributed to team work.

“We listened, we had confidence, we executed but, most of all, we played for each other. We went from 4th place to number one in the country. There’s no better progress than that,” she said.

After years of competing in the USSA championships, this was the first time the team took the top title, having progressed from sixth place in 2011 to first in 2014.

“We had faith,” said Patience Gumbo, BHSc Honours in Forensic Science and vice-chairperson of the club.  “We wanted to win it.  We really were determined this time. We have gone through so much and pushed through so much that we deserved and owed it to ourselves to give it all.”

The core team competed together since 2010, said Gumbo.  “Bit by bit, we kind of became who we are now, but we are still growing … We have been improving over the years and winning USSA national championships showed that.”

Losing to VUT constantly by two points since the 2012 season pushed us to our limit. 

The win had inspired and motivated the team to keep working harder, she said. “The other teams won’t be easier on us and they are just going to keep pushing harder.”

The toughest teams in the competition were Cape Peninsula University of Technology which reached the finals in 2012 and 2013, and Vaal University of Technology (VUT).  VUT were national champions for six years in a row, according to Coach William Matlakala, who has coached the women since 2010.

Game change

“The biggest pusher was that we were tired of defeat,” said Mokoka. “Losing to VUT constantly by two points since the 2012 season pushed us to our limit.”

She said VUT’s team consisted of national and international players and the entire team was on full sports bursaries (tuition and accommodation).  This made it easier for the team to be “basketball orientated”, compared to Witsies who played for the “love of it”.

“VUT and CPUT have scholarships for their players and athletes,” confirmed Matlakala. “We can’t do the same so that has been the main challenge.”

Mokoka said the team’s dynamics were “play as a team to win as a team”, but individuals had opportunities to improve on their own goals.  Their plans were to continue their success until the end of 2014 and to develop new players for the new season in 2015.

Coach Matlakala said defending the championship next year would be much harder, but fortunately, only a small number of players were due to graduate at the end of the year.  Before the end of 2015, they hoped to recruit new and advanced players.

GUBL games will take place this Sunday, from 9am to 5.45pm at Hall 29.

This article was featured in the Wits Vuvuzela

Theatre staff complain over overtime pay

EMPTY POCKETS: Disgruntled staff at the Wits Theatre are clashing with new management, about over-time pay. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

EMPTY POCKETS: Disgruntled staff at the Wits Theatre are clashing with new management, about over-time pay. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

By Lameez Omarjee and Roxanne Joseph

Wits Theatre staff are complaining about changes in the way they are paid overtime saying “new management” limits their claims.

“Our contract says five days a week, but now we work up to seven days sometimes,” said Sipho*, who works at the theatre.

Spreading hours

Sipho said the work hours set in their contracts have been spread out across the week, and not five days. Even though workers come in on the weekends, they do not get paid for overtime because they are still working off the week’s required work hours.

Sipho was told by management they did not qualify for “overtime” pay because the “minister” does not allow it. Sipho also said that “all” the staff were unhappy with conditions.

“They [are] limiting worker hours,” said Olivia Moeti, whose mother works at the Wits Theatre. Workers finish at 3pm on weekdays but come in on Saturday to work the other hours required by their contract, she said.
The theatre employs five cleaners, two of whom are directly employed by Wits.

The rules of the industry have been negotiated and are in line with university policy and labour laws.

According to theatre manager Gita Pather, university policy states that anyone who earns under the threshold of R198 000 each year is entitled to overtime and has to work at least 42.5 hours a week. They also cannot work more than 10 hours overtime, because it is against labour law.

“The rules of the industry have been negotiated and are in line with university policy and labour laws,” she said. When she took over as manager, overtime rules were not strictly enforced.

“They were getting paid overtime and taking toil,” she said. “Those who didn’t qualify for overtime were being given it anyway … People had gotten used to being paid huge amounts of overtime.”

But this year, she was given a budget and has to use that amount allocated to overtime across the whole year.

New management

Problems started when new management took over this year, said Moeti. “My mum has been working here for 31 years, this is the first time it’s happening.” The new management insists that these new rules come from Wits University, she said.

“According to management, they say, Wits says it’s [work on Saturdays] is not overtime … They say Wits says they must get a day off instead of paying them,” she said.

However, Pather did not know about this and said the only thing that has changed is the number of hours they are allowed to work. Unless it is festival time, employees do not work on a Sunday and they work off a call sheet.

Wits Services, who manage the cleaning staff, are not aware of any overtime issues. According to director Nicki McGee: “We undertake when appointing service providers via the approved, transparent tender processes, and in consultation with numerous stakeholders at the university.

I am completely satisfied that we are working within the rules set by the university and labour laws.

“The service providers adhere to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act … to ensure that such practices do not occur.”

Additionally, there aren’t different rates for night shift, from 4pm to 8.30pm. No provision for transport is made for staff ending their shifts at night. “It’s not fair to let a woman walk to Bree in the middle of the night,” said Moeti.
Pather said security provides transport to all Wits employees who work late at night. “They take them to the taxi rank.”

Moeti said management was trying to save on expenses throughout the year so that they could get “more money in December”. She said: “They’re trying to save, they’re saving on other people’s expense.”
She also said more people had problems but they were too scared to come forward, out of fear of losing their jobs.

“There is an issue,” Pather said. “But I have a set amount of money.” She said the theatre is “completely compliant”. She said she is aware of the unhappiness, but has a budget and has to manage that.

“I am completely satisfied that we are working within the rules set by the university and labour laws.”

*not his real name

This article was featured in the Wits Vuvuzela