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Microsoft Enforces iPhone-Only Policy for Workers in China

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Microsoft Corp. has informed its employees in China that they will be required to use iPhones for work-related purposes starting in September.

This move effectively bans the use of Android-powered devices for accessing corporate resources.

According to an internal memo, the decision is part of a broader companywide initiative to enhance the security of Microsoft products and services against cyber threats.

The new policy will impact hundreds of employees across the Chinese mainland, ensuring they utilize Apple’s devices to verify their identities when logging in.

This requirement is tied to the mandatory use of the Microsoft Authenticator password manager and Identity Pass app, both of which are available only through Apple’s App Store in China.

The core reason behind the exclusion of Android devices is the absence of Google’s mobile services in China. Without access to Google Play, Chinese Android users are unable to download the essential security apps required by Microsoft.

Local smartphone manufacturers like Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp. operate their own app platforms, which do not meet Microsoft’s security requirements.

As a result, Microsoft has decided to provide iPhone 15 models to employees currently using Android handsets, including those made by Huawei or Xiaomi.

These iPhones will be issued as a one-time purchase and can be collected at designated hubs across China, including in Hong Kong where Google’s services are accessible. Employees may continue to use Android phones for personal purposes.

“Due to the lack of availability of Google Mobile Services in this region, we look to offer employees a means of accessing these required apps, such as an iOS device,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

This policy change underscores the fragmented nature of Android app stores in China and highlights the growing divergence between Chinese and foreign mobile ecosystems.

The move comes as part of Microsoft’s Secure Future Initiative (SFI), launched in November 2023, which represents the company’s most ambitious security overhaul in two decades.

This initiative includes leveraging artificial intelligence and other technologies to address cloud vulnerabilities more rapidly, enhance credential security, and enforce multifactor authentication automatically for employees.

The timing of Microsoft’s policy shift is particularly sensitive given the ongoing geopolitical tensions between Beijing and Washington. Since 2023, numerous Chinese government-backed firms and agencies have instructed staff to avoid bringing foreign devices to work, citing security concerns.

Also, in May, the Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft had offered to relocate between 700 and 800 employees based in China working on artificial intelligence, a key strategic technology for both nations.

Despite the changes, Microsoft and Apple shares remained mostly unchanged in New York on Monday.

However, Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, saw a nearly 1% decline in its stock, while Xiaomi’s stock fell about 1% in Hong Kong.

Microsoft’s Secure Future Initiative aims to fortify the company against cybersecurity threats through various measures, including the new iPhone-only policy in China.

By mandating the use of iPhones, Microsoft hopes to create a more secure and cohesive digital environment for its employees in a region where cyber threats are a growing concern.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Fintech

Flutterwave Celebrates Inclusion in CNBC’s Top 250 Global Fintechs

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Flutterwave has been recognized as one of the Top 250 Fintech companies globally by CNBC and Statista.

Joining the ranks of industry giants like Ali Pay, Klarna, Piggyvest, and Mastercard, this accolade underscores Flutterwave’s impact on the financial technology sector.

This honor follows Flutterwave’s recent inclusion in Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list, highlighting the company’s pivotal role in transforming Africa’s payment landscape.

The recognition is a testament to Flutterwave’s dedication to innovation and excellence in providing seamless payment solutions across the continent.

Expressing gratitude, Flutterwave acknowledged its talented team, supportive board, reliable partners, and loyal customers for contributing to this success.

The company continues to drive progress in the fintech industry, reinforcing its commitment to enhancing financial accessibility and inclusion in Africa and beyond.

Flutterwave’s recognition on these prestigious lists marks a proud moment and a significant milestone in its journey, reflecting the company’s growing influence and leadership in the global fintech arena.

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Startups

Google Leads $250 Million Funding Round for Glance

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A logo is pictured at Google's European Engineering Center in Zurich

Google is leading a $250 million funding round for Glance, a mobile content provider.

This infusion of capital aims to expand Glance’s reach and solidify its market position amidst growing competition.

Glance, a subsidiary of InMobi Group, offers a unique service that delivers news, entertainment, and other content directly to users’ mobile screens without unlocking their devices.

With a user base exceeding 300 million across India, the US, Japan, and Indonesia, the startup has gained significant traction since its inception in 2019.

The funding round, expected to close in the coming weeks, marks a continued partnership between Google and Glance.

Google initially invested in the company in 2020, and this latest round will further enhance Glance’s capabilities to innovate and reach new audiences.

This investment reflects Google’s strategic interest in India, the world’s most populous nation, where it competes with tech giants like Microsoft, Meta, and Amazon.

With India’s rapidly growing middle class and increasing smartphone adoption, the market presents vast opportunities for digital expansion.

The support from Google comes on the heels of a previous $200 million investment by Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s wealthiest individual, which valued Glance at over $1 billion.

The startup’s largest stakeholder, InMobi, continues to thrive as a pioneer in mobile advertising, with Glance benefiting from its expertise and resources.

As Glance prepares for this new phase of growth, it stands poised to redefine how content is consumed on mobile devices worldwide.

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Cyber Threats Surge as Nigeria’s Digital Economy Expands

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As Nigeria’s digital economy flourishes, it faces escalating cyber threats, prompting the Federal Government to issue 33 cyberattack advisories in the past year.

These warnings, issued by the Nigeria Computer and Emergency Response Team (ngCERT), highlight the growing vulnerability of the nation’s digital infrastructure.

Since July 2023, ngCERT has alerted Nigerians to new attack methods and vulnerabilities. With 22 advisories issued in 2024 alone, the surge in cyberattacks coincides with the accelerated digitization spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monthly internet usage in Nigeria soared from 125,149.86 terabytes in December 2019 to 753,388.77 terabytes in March 2024.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) notes that increased digitalization has heightened cybersecurity risks, necessitating robust protective measures.

According to Check Point Research, Nigerian businesses face approximately 2,308 attacks weekly across all sectors.

The advisories reveal various cyber threats, including ransomware and banking trojans. A recent warning highlighted Grandoreiro, a malware targeting over 1,500 banks globally, affecting 41 banking applications in Nigeria alone.

These attacks aim to steal sensitive financial data, potentially causing significant financial losses.

Nigeria’s critical infrastructure is also under threat. In August, pro-Nigerien hackers attempted to disrupt MTN Nigeria’s network, although they were unsuccessful.

During the 2023 elections, the government recorded 12.99 million cyberattacks, underscoring the scale of the threat.

Cybercrime costs Nigeria about $500 million annually. This includes data damage, stolen money, lost productivity, and post-attack disruptions.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation ranked Nigeria as the 16th country worst affected by cybercrime in 2020.

Experts emphasize the need for stronger cybersecurity measures. Adesina Sodiya, a professor of Computer Science and Information Security, warns that cyberattacks will continue to grow in sophistication.

He stresses the importance of building a cybersecurity curriculum and involving experts in creating effective strategies.

In response, NITDA plans to reduce cyberattacks by 40% by 2027. “As we digitize, we must build with security in mind,” said Kashifu Inuwa, director-general of NITDA.

The agency aims to implement comprehensive strategies to protect Nigeria’s burgeoning digital economy.

As Nigeria’s digital economy expands, it must address the growing cyber threats that accompany this progress. By enhancing cybersecurity measures and fostering collaboration among stakeholders, Nigeria can safeguard its digital future.

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