Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

Coding Oversight: Vodacom Security Breach

February 17, 2008

A simple coding oversight has left the Vodacom4me site vulnerable allowing access to customers private call records. The problem allows users to increment their customer number thereby accessing random customer accounts.

Here is a quick example of the problem. Say we have a call record page that displays a customer’s call records.

The page accepts a customers id which it then uses to query the DB and present the returned data. i.e. callrecords.php?customerid=12345
The parameter can be accepted via a Post or a Get.

Now anyone with a little web knowledge can simply increment the id to say 12346 and thereby obtain the personal data of a random Vodacom customer.

Here is Vodacom’s response to the problem:

Vodacom spokesman Dot Field said that when the Sunday Times brought the matter to their attention, the vulnerable section of the website was “disabled with immediate effect”.

The weakness had made it possible to display random customer information from a “caching front end server” which briefly stored information. The main database of information was secure, she said.

I’m really not sure how they can say the main database remained secure. Another case of trying to throw technical terms in the air to try and cover up a blatant error.

Solution: Simple, ensure your developers have the correct security training and improve the QA process.


Jake White Interview

February 13, 2008

Jake WhiteIn case you missed it, here are the links to the Radio 702 interview with World Cup winning Springbok coach, Jake White. The interview is in 5 parts and well worth the listen.

South African Humor at its Best

February 10, 2008

Here is an audio clip from Good Hope FM’s Ryan O Connor which can only make you smile. He pretends to me an Eskom representative calling a disgruntled customer about the power outages.


South Africa’s Power Crisis Makes it to the New York Times

January 31, 2008

Link to the Article: Power Failures Outrage South Africa

But electricity shortages, now expected to be a fact of life for the next five years, are more than an embarrassment. They threaten continued strong growth here in a nation that accounts for a third of sub-Saharan Africa’s economic output and ranks among the world’s top 25 countries in gross domestic product.

“What can we do?” said the owner, Panos Avraamides. “We throw out all the salads, all the dips, all the antipastos, I let the employees have a one-hour break. Then they come back and stand around and do nothing.”

“Because of this situation, economic growth just stops,” said Andrew Kenny, an engineering consultant. “In that way, the problem solves itself.”

The Bandit’s morning sessions a thing of the past.

January 30, 2008

After a stellar run DEREK “TheBandit” Richardson, the man single-handedly responsible for growing the world of dance beyond South Africa’s wildest imagination is packing his record box for one last national tour

“I have had such a wonderful journey and I thank everyone that has supported me through out the years! Life is ever changing and it’s time to hang up my headphones when it comes to live performances. I will continue to produce the finest PODCASTS for the world to enjoy!”

Visit for more details and to catch the awesome dance web radio.

Eskom Uplugged.

January 28, 2008


Very funny.

My thoughts on the South African power crisis

January 26, 2008

I arrived back in South Africa last Friday after leaving for Sydney at the end of last year. I’ve heard about the power cuts from friends and reading the news, but I never quite understood how bad the situation was.

I’m sitting at Johannesburg International (OR Thambo) waiting to board a flight back to Sydney and to be honest I very worried about the future of the country of my birth.

There are thousands of examples of how the “Load Shedding” is effecting South Africans but one really made realise how bad things are becoming. Before leaving for the airport, I popped down to our local London Pie to pick up some lunch for the family. The shopping centre where the pie shop is located had their power cut due to load shedding. London Pie were therefore unable to accept debit or credit card payments. With no other way of paying I was forced to look for some lunch at the Spar. Spar was lucky enough to have a backup generator.

How many other potential customers were forced to do the same? With load shedding being a daily occurrence, how is the owner of the London Pie expected to run his business?

There is news today that some of the countries largest Gold and Platinum mines were forced to stop operations due to Eskom not being able to guarantee them power. This in turn had negative consequences for the price of gold and platinum. Earlier in the week, I heard how international hockey games hosted in South Africa had to be changed due to load shedding fears. With reports saying that this will continue for years, one can only imagine how the 2010 soccer world cup will be effected.

I’m not sure what the solution is or if there is any light at the end of the tunnel. There are calls for resignations and explanations, but I’m not sure these will help. The problem is not one that can be resolved over night.

It pains me to say that I’m looking forward to getting on the plane this afternoon.

For an idea of how bad the situation is getting visit

South Africa’s Future

January 2, 2008

I read an interesting article this morning by the UK Telegraph about the future of South Africa under the new ANC leader and presidential hopeful Jacob Zuma.

More recently, another high-ranking ANC member told a British newspaper that most, if not all, of the officials who have been handling South Africa’s finances in the 13 years since Mandela came to power would abandon their posts under a Zuma presidency.

At first pass, Mr Zuma is a far from impressive candidate for the job. He is an affable populist with no formal schooling, but an impressive trajectory through the ranks of the military wing of the liberation movement.

His testimony during the rape trial that, after having sex with someone who was HIV positive, he had taken a shower to reduce the risk of infection, beggars belief. And although he was acquitted of rape and the corruption case against him collapsed, his days in court are not over. Prosecutors say they have found fresh evidence of corruption and it seems he will face further charges in the New Year.

Link to the article


Zuma Wins

December 18, 2007

Is this a sign of things to come? Jacob Zuma has just won the vote to become the next ANC leader with him receiving 2329 votes in the presidential election. The current president, Thabo Mbeki only managed 1505.

Wonders of Africa as seen on Google Earth

November 9, 2007

Google Sightseeing has a great post on African animals caught in the act on Google Earth. Here are a few highlights from the post:

Small family of elephants in Chad Huge flock of Pink Flamingos
taking off in Mozambique
Hundreds of Tanzanian hippos wallowing in the mud

Link to a kml file containing hundreds of animals found in Google Earth
Visit the official Megaflyover and National Geographic pages.

Link to Google Sightseeing post