Friday 23 Feb 2024
By
main news image

This article first appeared in Digital Edge, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on February 12, 2024 - February 18, 2024

NEWS

Alibaba Cloud offers serverless solution to use generative AI

Alibaba Cloud has unveiled the serverless version of its Platform for Artificial Intelligence-Elastic Algorithm Service (PAI-EAS). The platform is designed to offer a cost-efficient solution for model deployment and inference to individuals and enterprises.

PAI-EAS allows users to tap into computing resources as needed. This eliminates the need to oversee the management and upkeep of physical and virtual servers. The serverless offering is currently undergoing beta testing and is accessible for image generation model deployment.

The serverless version is set to expand its capabilities in March. This will support the deployment of prominent open-source large language models (LLMs) and models from Alibaba’s AI model community, ModelScope.

To tap into the growing demand for data preprocessing and data offline/online analysis in AI-related computing tasks, Alibaba Cloud has announced an upgrade on its big data service called MaxCompute MaxFrame. It allows users to process massive amounts of data more efficiently and flexibly.

Furthermore, Alibaba Cloud has also introduced PAI-Artlab, which is a comprehensive platform for model training and image generation. Designers can leverage the platform to generate image designs for a variety of applications.

The platform also provides an ecosystem of ready-to-use tools to enable designers with no coding background to develop and train custom models.

Malaysians warned about high ATM withdrawal fees overseas

British foreign exchange and financial technology company Wise has advised Malaysians travelling overseas to use digital payments to counter the high hidden costs of ATM withdrawals.

While banks and interbank networks usually charge ATM withdrawal fees depending on the destination and bank, Wise revealed in a recent study that fees Malaysians face could increase exponentially when withdrawing overseas.

In its study, Wise found that banks in Argentina could charge as high as 14.8% per withdrawal, the highest charge found. Chile had the second highest rate at 6.33%, followed by the Philippines (2.85%), Thailand (2.62%), South Korea (2.55%), Vietnam (1.85%), Singapore (1.41%), Australia (1.15%), Costa Rica (0.80%), Japan (0.64%) and Taiwan (0.63%). The UK’s was the lowest at 0.16%.

On average, South American countries have fees ranging from 3% to 7%, while those at popular travel destinations such as Australia and the Southeast Asian region range from 1.15% to 2.85%. To put things into perspective, a traveller who withdraws RM200 in Argentina would have to fork out an additional RM29.60 for withdrawal fees.

Besides ATM fees, Malaysians abroad may also face undisclosed exchange rate mark-ups when using credit and debit cards — from 0.5% to 2% in a dynamic currency conversion fee.

To counter this, paying in local currency through digital payment alternatives is recommended, says Wise.

Tune Protect Life’s flexible insurance solution with virtual assistant

Tune Protect Life has introduced FlexiOne, a flexible insurance solution comprising life, medical and/or critical illness for the retail market.

Targeting insurance beginners, FlexiOne provides customers with the flexibility to mix and match their coverages according to their individual preferences, budgets and needs with the assistance of a friendly human-like virtual assistant, which will guide customers through the entire purchase journey.

FlexiOne is suitable for young, first-time buyers and those on a shoestring budget, with premiums starting from as low as RM5 a month. It is available for purchase on Tune Protect Life’s B2C online platform. Customers can select the pre-packaged budget plan or build their own plan, accompanied by Tracy, the new resident virtual assistant.

FlexiOne uses artificial intelligence (AI) to recommend suitable plans for each customer. Based on certain information of the customer such as age and gender, the built-in AI assistant will personalise and then recommend the best insurance package for the customer’s consideration. The plan recommender is helpful for customers who are new to insurance and prefer to have some recommendations.

For a limited time only, Tune Protect Life is offering two months of free FlexiOne insurance of up to a total of RM300 for purchases made through its B2C platform. In addition, customers are eligible to join the Refer and Earn campaign where each successful referral would entitle the customer to RM20 in referral fee.

Awantec and GA Business Academy join forces for an AI-driven reskilling platform benefiting Sabah entrepreneurs

AwanBiru Technology Bhd, through its fully-owned subsidiary, Awantec Systems Sdn Bhd, is collaborating with GA Business Academy Sdn Bhd, an integrated professional firm, for talent development in Sabah.

Azlan Zainal Abidin, CEO of Awantec, said there is escalating demand for expertise in critical domains such as the Internet of Things, software development, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain technology, robotics, project migration and change management, owing to the burgeoning digital economy.

The collaboration will provide entrepreneurs in Sabah with exposure to Skillsoft’s Generative AI, an upskilling and reskilling platform designed to empower entrepreneurs, thereby enhancing their business yields and capabilities.

This innovative platform ensures that entrepreneurs stay at the forefront of technological advancements, equipping them with the latest tools and skills essential for business growth.

The programme is made fully claimable through the Human Resources Development Fund, providing a financially affordable avenue for entrepreneurs to invest in their professional development and stay ahead in an ever-evolving business landscape.

HID and Olea Kiosks allow secure and convenient self-service access

HID and Olea Kiosks have announced a new collaboration that will transform the user experience when it comes to access control and user authentication across a range of applications.

The HID U.ARE.U Camera Identification System — featuring facial recognition technology — can now be incorporated into the Olea Hypermodular Kiosk to address the rising demand for flexible, customisable identity authentication and verification across various vertical settings.

Facial recognition technology continues to gain traction because of its unique combination of high security and user convenience. Paired with the flexible Olea kiosk, HID’s AI-powered U.ARE.U Camera Identification System is a solution for applications that need to handle high throughput.

Olea developed the Hypermodular Kiosk in response to market demand for flexible, customisable kiosks for the security and access control space. In addition to housing HID’s leading facial recognition camera, Olea’s kiosk design can also accommodate fingerprint scanners, barcode scanners, ticket and identification card document readers, RFID readers, card printers and other HID offerings within its Hypermodular footprint.

Bringing together HID facial recognition and Olea kiosks would support multiple use cases for reliable self-service check-in and authentication. Industries from healthcare, hospitality and retail to banking, government, transport and beyond are primed to empower people with unsurpassed levels of security and user convenience when it comes to countless check-in and access scenarios, the companies say.

Unitrade partners with Huawei Malaysia and JJ-LAPP to drive solar energy adoption

Unitrade Industries Bhd, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Syarikat Logam Unitrade Sdn Bhd, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Huawei Malaysia and JJ-LAPP to explore business opportunities under Huawei’s cutting-edge Digital Power-Smart PV (photovoltaic) solutions.

The Smart PV system integrates digital technologies into solar power systems for optimised energy generation and enhanced efficiency, as well as in facilitating remote monitoring and management of solar power systems.

Under the MoU, Huawei Malaysia will act as the technology adviser for the Smart PV systems, complemented by JJ-LAPP as the authorised value-added partner to enhance the reach and impact of the solutions within the targeted segments. Meanwhile, Unitrade will serve as the distribution partner in facilitating broader market access for the Smart PV systems.

R00TK1T has allegedly breached Maxis’ Kulim network, threatens further cyberattacks on Malaysia

International hacker group R00TK1T has threatened to unleash further attacks on Maxis after the telecommunications company issued its official response on the cybersecurity incident on Feb 5, SoyaCincau reported.

Disputing the official statement which claimed that the incident only affected third-party vendor systems, R00TK1T has urged Maxis to come clean or else it will unleash further chaos on the telco’s network.

According to news report, R00TK1T claimed to have infiltrated what appears to be one of Maxis’ employee dashboards to prove that its systems are not as impenetrable as they seem. They issued another threat to shut down the telco’s systems and expose valuable data and vulnerabilities every two hours if Maxis fails to acknowledge their successful breach.

A few hours later, the hackers asserted that they had successfully penetrated Maxis’ Kulim network by breaching its firewall. Based on a screenshot shared by SoyaCincau, it seems that R00TK1T may have executed a factory reset on one of Maxis’ agrotech-related systems.

The group emphasised that time is running out, expressing they are eager to expose more vulnerabilities.

At 11.34pm on Feb 5, they delivered the last ultimatum and posted another screenshot depicting current connections at Quayside Mall in Kota Kemuning, Selangor. They further stated their possession of an elite team of “52 highly skilled mercenaries”, poised and ready to act upon their orders.

R00TK1T said Maxis’ continued ignorance has only fuelled its determination. Interestingly, the hackers also expressed their gratitude to disgruntled employees who provided them with inside information about the authorities and large companies in Malaysia.

Other than Maxis, R00TK1T warned that it is collectively targeting all companies in Malaysia, including the country’s digital infrastructure, and it will not stop until its message is heard loud and clear.

Their first target was Aminia, a telecommunications vendor. Besides Maxis, the group also claimed to have attacked YouTutor, an online learning platform.

 

FUNDING

Antler commits investments for 37 start-ups across Southeast Asia

Global early stage venture capital firm Antler has announced its largest pre-seed investment round to date. The venture capital firm will commit US$5.1 million (RM24 million) to 37 start-ups across Southeast Asia, including Malaysia.

The investment marks Antler’s initial commitment in Malaysia as part of its strategic partnership with sovereign wealth fund Khazanah. The portfolio spans 19 sectors to address specific regional challenges, with Antler Malaysia backing seven start-ups including PingMi, Seafoody and Zappy.

The investments in the round underscore trends such as the shift to verticalised artificial intelligence (AI), the rise of Industry 4.0 in Southeast Asia and the region’s start-ups building hyperlocal solutions with global scalability.

Some 34% of start-ups in the investment round were from verticalised AI (solutions tailored to specific industry verticals or niches) with a further 34% of start-ups in Industry 4.0. The start-ups with hyperlocal solutions with global scalability have identified opportunities in fintech, communications, business operations and more.

There was a record number of 5,000 applications for the investment round. For a full list of invested companies, visit https://airtable.com/app4y2jcM3qBJiKVo/shr9aQHRVQnrd9D2P/tblBjIz8YZaqwpWFs.

Mavcap invests fund to tackle regional mobility and supply chain challenges

As part of its goal to help local start-ups in pushing technological advancements in Malaysia and across the region, the Malaysia Venture Capital Management Bhd (Mavcap) announced its investment as a limited partner to local venture capital firm Vynn Capital’s Mobility and Supply Chain Fund on Jan 24.

The Mobility and Supply Chain Fund is targeting a fund size of US$30 million and aims to grow the Southeast Asian technology landscape through mobility and supply chain solution innovations.

Vynn Capital created this fund to address emerging challenges and opportunities in the region’s mobility and supply chain sectors. The fund focuses on early stage start-ups that are raising seed to series A funds, from initial capital to when they show progress in building their business model and demonstrate the potential to grow and generate revenue.

With experienced partners backing the fund, the goal is to provide start-ups with access to essential resources and expertise to help drive solutions in vehicle and transport infrastructure.

The fund also seeks to address the current challenges of creating more sustainable technological solutions in Malaysia and foster increased regional collaboration by investing in companies that are strategically targeting the broader Southeast Asian market.

 

RED ALERT

Do not pay ransomware attackers

Some 88% of company executives are willing to pay the ransom after a successful ransomware infection, according to a survey done by Kaspersky. But CyberSecurity Malaysia discourages companies affected by ransomware from giving in to the demands of hackers; instead, they should seek assistance from the authorities.

According to experts, ransomware attacks target organisations every 11 seconds, causing US$20 billion in damages globally. This type of threat always results in significant losses, both financial and reputational.

It is also important to remember that paying the ransom does not guarantee that you will get all your data back, said Adrian Hia, managing director for Asia-Pacific at Kaspersky.

As soon as individuals realise their data may be compromised, they need to inform the people in their social circle and check if their email account has been exposed at https://haveibeenpwned.com. Changing passwords on all accounts and securing their computer and other devices with antivirus and anti-malware software are also advised.

To protect individual’s financial privacy, they are encouraged to set up credit monitoring and sign up for two-factor authentication (2FA). Individuals are also advised to not respond directly to requests from a company to give them personal data after a data breach and to monitor their accounts for signs of any new activity.

For organisations whose information have been encrypted for ransom, the recovery process can be done in four steps. Companies can look for infected computers and network segments and immediately isolate them from the rest of the network to limit contamination.

Next, see to the security of the rest of the network to detect and eliminate the threat. Clean up and restore computers that are out of commission by formatting unnecessary drives. Companies need to take preventive measures and practise saving logs and other traces of malware as evidence for further investigation.

In another note, Kaspersky warns the public against special offers run during the holidays, adding that these should be double-checked and verified with official sources as scammers often disguise the theft of personal data and funds as holiday giveaways.

Another phishing technique is a lottery featuring banks, where users will be directed to a site mimicking legitimate online banking surfaces to deposit their winnings. The tactic aims to swindle victims by gaining access to their banking credentials and funds.

Fraudsters have also created a phishing page copying official offers of Courtyard.io, a website that allows users to convert physical collectibles into tokens. Visitors falling for the fake site will have scammers infiltrating their connected crypto wallet, resulting in the theft of their funds.

The experts at Kaspersky advise users to verify the source and legitimacy of physical offers through a brand’s official website and social media channels for confirmation of giveaway campaigns.

Users are also advised to not open links from emails as they could be phishing links. Instead, they should type the URL into the address bar, avoiding any links in emails.

Most importantly, users should never share their personal information. Legitimate giveaways rarely ask for sensitive personal information. Hence, be cautious of any request for details such as bank account numbers, passwords or social security numbers.

 

(Photo by Grace Yap Ern Hui/The Edge)

PICTURE OF THE WEEK

Malaysian artist Karwai Chan and online furniture retailer Cuura Space have come together to unveil an art installation — Creating Shared Connections.

The event, running throughout February at SWOL Café in Bangsar, features a bedroom set display suspended on a wall, adorned with doodles and paintings by Karwai.

The exhibition combines Nordic-inspired designs and the romance of Valentine’s Day with Karwai’s latest series, Cupid Rhapsody: Way Back To Love.

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“In a world of social media, people are polarised. They just want to forward things that are quick and that agree with their personal biases. But we are finding that we can fight back through a long form, present both sides of an argument, and leave it to people to decide. We are trying to claim back the space where people can think, rather than spread very bite-sized content suited for an algorithm.” 

— Khairy Jamaluddin, politician, radio presenter and podcaster, speaking at a media conference ahead of the KL PodFest 2024, which was held on Feb 3 and 4.

Apart from having led the health ministry amid a global pandemic and co-hosting “Keluar Sekejap”, one of the country’s most popular political podcasts, Khairy is also a radio presenter for Hot FM’s “Bekpes Hot” segment.

 

TECH BOOKS

Deep Tech: Demystifying the Breakthrough Technologies That Will Revolutionize Everything by Eric Redmond

The world of “deep tech” has launched seven simultaneous global revolutions: artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain and cryptocurrencies, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, and quantum computing — a perfect storm that will drive the global economy for the next decade to the tune of over US$100 trillion.

Deep Tech outlines the promise (and potential perils) hidden within each of these emerging technology revolutions, all poised to explode into the mainstream market.

Whether you are a Fortune 100 executive or a hungry entrepreneur, Deep Tech will teach you to become fluent in deep tech — both its language and its possibilities — preparing you to take part in the decade’s greatest opportunities. — Amazon

 

DIGITIONARY

Hacktivism

Hacktivism is a portmanteau of “hacking” and “activism”, representing the use of computer hacking and digital tools to advance sociopolitical causes.

Hacktivists employ various cyber techniques, such as website defacement, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and data breaches, to promote their ideological agendas or protest against perceived injustices.

While some hacktivists aim to expose corruption or champion freedom of information, others engage in more malicious activities. The motivations behind hacktivism vary, encompassing political, social or environmental concerns. However, the ethical implications of hacktivism remain contentious, as the methods employed often straddle the line between digital protest and illegal activities.

Save by subscribing to us for your print and/or digital copy.

P/S: The Edge is also available on Apple's App Store and Android's Google Play.

      Print
      Text Size
      Share