The Instagram influencer marketing industry is expected to exceed $1 billion by the end of 2017, and more than double by 2019. A Santa Monica-based influencer marketing industry Mediakix forecast these figures by studying the #spon #sp and #ad hashtags on the platform, which saw over 9.7 million posts tagged in 2016, with 14.5 million expected for 2017.
While South Africa may be late to the party for most things digital, there are a fair amount of influencers making waves locally. No matter the niche, there are bloggers and influencers who, through their combined digital platforms, are regarded just as important as journalists when it comes to making an invite list; or taking part in a campaign best aligned with their brand. It is predominant with fashion, beauty and lifestyle bloggers in South Africa where some have quit their full-time jobs to focus on being an ‘influencer’.
Aqeelah Harron Ally, a 27-year-old fashion, beauty, and travel blogger at FashionBreed, from Cape Town, worked full-time for five years before quitting her job, and tells us she could have afforded to leave sooner, but didn’t have the courage.
Ally, who has been blogging for seven years, initially started her blog so she could work for a magazine to ultimately become a fashion editor. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film, Media & Writing, and Drama from the University of Cape Town; and a Diploma in Make Up Artistry.
The decision to quit her job has worked out well for Ally, who says she is much happier now, even though being her own boss can be stressful at times.
“I’ve been lucky because for the last two years, I’ve landed many contracts which span over four, six, or even eight months; this helps a lot with stability, however I’m also fine without those kinds of jobs.”
She has other once-off campaigns that are booked a month or two in advance, and out of the events she attends, about 60% are paid attendance, which is generally tied to a campaign she is already creating content for.
“I seldom get paid just to attend an event and cover it, but I have done it in the past.”
Another digital content creator who quit her full-time job after five years is 26-year-old Anna-Belle Durrant from Parktown North in Johannesburg. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Philosophy from the University of the Witwatersrand. She started her blog SheSaid back in 2013 initially to share her love for Johannesburg, but it has blossomed into stories about travel, fashion, healthy living and design.
“So far it’s worked out incredibly well; I love that I am the master of my own time and creations, and I’m still very fortunate to work closely with agencies like Cerebra [previous employer],” says Durrant.
To her, blogging is like freelancing; work comes in when it comes in and you just have to go with the flow. “However, I do work with brands on a retainer basis to create content around their offerings; and my campaigns run across all my social channels and blog. When you become a blogger, your mind-set changes completely, what you earn is in line with how much you work… so work hard and you should be ok,” she says.
However, the industry has been marred by a fake follower problem where users deceive brands into paying them for being an influencer. Mediakix ran an experiment on two accounts proving how easy it is by purchasing fake followers from as little as $3 for 1,000 followers and $4 for 1,000 likes. Once these accounts reached a threshold of 10,000 followers, they signed up for campaigns – and got accepted for two paying jobs each.
The onus of this falls on PR companies or marketing agencies who need to ensure they’ve done thorough research before approaching an influencer. A quick search on Memeburn.com for an article titled Fake followers are a massive problem, as SA duo proves shows the extent of it in South Africa.
Ally says what they’re doing is illegal.
“It is straight-up fraud because you’re telling a brand to pay you for something you can only pretend to offer. Buying followers is selfish and entitled, but more than anything it’s a charade they won’t be able to keep up with because there are so many tell-tale signs that reveal the cracks in the lie.”
Durrant on the other hand feels that while you can cheat anything in life, rather focus on your own content and what you need to do to build your brand as the truth always comes out in the end.
Both Ally and Durrant work extremely hard at being full-time bloggers and share similar sentiments that it’s not all freebies, fame, travel and parties. “You’re a stylist, photographer, writer, curator, art director, model, negotiator/businesswoman, social media manager, video maker; the ultimate definition of a jack-of-all-trades,” says Ally.
Durrant compares it to running a magazine that needs to be published constantly except she’s the CEO, photographer, stylist and janitor, all while fighting for invoices to be paid. “It’s a lifestyle of work hard, play hard.”
Ultimately, both find it very rewarding. For Ally, it’s all about the relationships with her readers, and stresses on how much she values it. “YouTube really extended my reach in this sense which has been so great. It’s also been rewarding growing as a content creator and actually getting paid for it. I’m really thankful for this because creatives don’t often get to say that. It’s really special being able to work for brands I grew up loving and respecting, even more so when their international teams fly to South Africa and get closely involved in what we do.”
Durrant loves that she gets to do things and go to places she could only have dreamed of.
“A highlight was exploring a music festival on the coast of Wales last year. Traveling makes me happy, I get to do that for my job; I honestly couldn’t ask for anything more. I also get to meet really incredible people and work with truly inspiring charities and brands, I have inspiration around me 24/7.” – Written by Nafisa Akabor
Here’s How The US Claims The Assange-Manning Conspiracy Worked
The U.S. government has disclosed more of its case against WikiLeaks cofounder Julian Assange. It hinges on a claim he and Chelsea Manning worked together to crack a password for a computer storing sensitive government files.
An affidavit unsealed Monday outlining the case against Assange said he conspired with Manning when they discussed working together to crack a password “related to two computers with access to classified national security information.” More specifically, the password belonged to a user called FTP (not to be confused with an FTP server) on two Windows computers that Manning could access from a base in Iraq, the government said.
The FTP account wasn’t associated with any specific individual, and the government alleged that if Manning had used it to pilfer files and hand them over to Wikileaks, she could have foiled investigators looking into who was behind the leaks.
“Although there is no evidence that the password to the FTP user was obtained, had Manning done so, she would have been able to take steps to procure classified information under a username that did not belong to her,” the affidavit read. “Such measures would have frustrated attempts to identify the source of the disclosures to WikiLeaks.”
The alleged conspiracy to crack the password took place in March 2010, two months after she’d walked out of the Iraq base with classified war reports from Iraq and Afghanistan. She was later convicted and served seven years in jail for downloading tens of thousands U.S. military documents and diplomatic cables.
How passwords are cracked
The reason any password had to be cracked in the first place was the use of what’s known as a “hash.” Microsoft’s Windows operating system doesn’t store passwords in plain text. That’s to prevent hackers who find a way on to the computer from seeing and stealing them. Instead, Microsoft makes life harder for cybercriminals and snoops by turning that plain text into scrambled code. That string of letters and numbers is known as a “hash value” and it’s created when an algorithm is applied to the plain text of the password.
For an attacker to get at the plain text it’s possible to do a so-called “brute force attack.” The process for this is basic: The hacker creates a huge list of guessed passwords through the same hashing algorithm used by Windows to find a matched hash value for the hidden password. Once the same hash value is calculated, the password has been found.
Sometimes a password will be too complex for guessing to work in a short enough time frame. That’s where “rainbow tables” come in. These contain a massive number of hash values for previously calculated passwords. Hackers use them to do a quick comparison of the hash they have with the ones in the table, in the hopes that it’s already been seen before and a match is available.
“In computing terms we call this a time/memory trade-off. Rather than spend time on a task, we pre-calculate parts of it and store them somewhere, essentially trading time for memory,” says Tom Wyatt, senior penetration tester at cybersecurity provider Bulletproof. “These tables can be calculated or downloaded from various online sources, and it simply boils down to paying for storage for it all; even in 2010 this was fairly cheap and entirely possible.”
But Microsoft goes one step further in protecting those hash values by splitting them in two, storing the parts in separate files. Here’s where a little trick comes in handy: A hacker might be able to recover those two separate pieces by rebooting a Windows PC using a CD with the Linux operating system. Back in 2010, it was possible to do that and recover the full hash value.
Ken Munro, a penetration tester with Pen Test Partners, told Forbes the technique still works, as long as there’s no additional layer of security over it, such as full disc encryption. “Whilst the technique still works, it’s quite rare to find systems that don’t now have full disc or similar encryption,” he added. (Microsoft hadn’t responded to a request for comment at the time of publication). According to the government’s telling of the story, evidence suggests Manning tried, and very possibly failed, with this technique. In a footnote in the affidavit, the government said Manning hadn’t provided Assange with the full hash, only one of the two halves required.
It’s alleged Manning passed what she thought was a hash value to Assange. The Wikileaks chief then said he would pass it on to a specialist in cracking, according to chats over the Jabber encrypted communications app, as provided in the affidavit. But, as per the investigators’ claims, there was some confusion: Manning said she wasn’t even sure what she handed to Assange was the hash value they wanted. Assange messaged Manning to ask if there were “any more hints” about the hash and that he’d had “no luck so far,” according to the government account. From there it’s unclear what happened. The government admits it didn’t know whether the password was ever cracked.
Not that it changes much for Assange: The charge is that of conspiracy. If he did offer assistance to help Manning gain access to U.S. government systems and encouraged the then intelligence analyst to leak files, the charge still stands. Manning, who served seven years in jail before being pardoned by President Barack Obama, is back behind bars for refusing to testify in the investigation into Wikileaks. Her lawyer had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.
Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, couldn’t be reached for comment at the time of publication. She told Sky News yesterday that the indictment against her client showed “the kinds of communications journalists have with sources all the time.” Following Assange’s arrest, however, various journalists have said on Twitter that any incitement to hack organizations or steal documents was far from normal and risked breaking the law.
Meanwhile, the fallout from Assange’s arrest continues. According to Reuters, Ecuador’s telecommunications vice minister Patricio Real said the government’s networks had been hit by a mass of cyberattacks after it decided to revoke Assange’s asylum status. He claimed various government websites had been slammed by 40 million hacking attempts per day, double the number it typically sees.
-Thomas Brewster; Forbes Staff
10 Rules Of Email That Will Reduce Your Stress Levels
Email and smart phones can be stressful. Academics are calling this constant work connection “technostress”. Consequently, many European countries are now offering employees the “right to disconnect”.
The way email is used is complex, it cannot simply be labelled as “good” or “bad” and research shows that personality, the type of work people do and their goals can influence the way they react to email.
Good practice with email use is not just about limiting the amount of emails sent, but improving the quality of communication.
Here are ten tips to reduce the stress of email at work:
1. Get the subject line right
Use clear and actionable subject lines.
The subject line should communicate exactly what the email is about in six to ten words, to allow the recipient to prioritise the email without even opening it. On mobile devices, many people only see the first 30 characters of a subject line. So keep it short. But make it descriptive enough to give an idea of what the email is about from just the subject line.
2. Ask yourself: is email the right medium?
Are you in the same office? Could you go and speak to the person? Could you call? Often these other forms of communication can avoid the inefficient back and forth of emailing.
Instant messaging and video calling platforms like Slack and Skype could be more appropriate for quick internal back and forth messaging. Also, remember that most of the advice below applies to all types of electronic communication.
3. Don’t email out of office hours
Research shows that out-of-hours emails make it harder for people to recover from work stress.
Try and influence your company culture by avoiding sending or replying to emails outside your normal working hours.
Management should lead by example and avoid contacting their staff outside of their normal working hours. Some workplaces even switch off email access to employees out of hours. Consider implementing this while keeping a backup phone system for emergency contact only.
New research has also shown that just the expectation of 24-hour contact can negatively affect employee health.
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4. Use the delay delivery option
Some people like integrating their work and family lives and often continue working from home during their off-job time. If you are one of these people, or if you work across time zones, consider using the delay delivery option so your emails do not send until the next working day and do not interfere with other people’s off-job time.
5. Keep it positive
Think about the quality of email communication. Not just the quantity. Changes to email use should also focus on the quality of what is being sent and take into consideration the emotional reaction of the recipient.
Research suggests that conflicts are far easier to escalate and messages to be misinterpreted when communicated via email. Therefore, if it is bad news, think back to rule #2: is email the right medium?
6. Try ‘no email Friday’
In order to shift company culture and get people thinking about other methods of communication than email, try a “no email Friday” on the first Friday of every month, or maybe even every week. This is an initiative suggested by experts from the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing at Work, and is being used by businesses around the globe. Employees are encouraged to arrange face-to-face meetings or pick up the phone – or just get on top of the many emails they already have in their inbox on that day.
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7. Make your preferences known
Research has shown that not only too much but also too little email can cause stress due to a mismatch between the communication preferences of different people. Some people may like being emailed and cope much better with high email traffic than other means of communication. For these people, reducing the amount of emails they receive may cause more stress than it alleviates.
So consider people’s individual differences and make yours known. Add your preferred contact preferences to your email signature whether it is email, text or instant messages or a phone call.
8. Consider a holiday ‘bounce back’
Having a backlog of emails that builds up over the week appears to be one of the most commonly mentioned sources of technostress for workers. Think about setting up a system where emails are bounced back to the sender when someone is on holiday, with an alternative contact email for urgent requests. This would let you come back to a manageable inbox.
9. Have a separate work phone
Make this the only mobile device you can access work emails on, which gives you the freedom to switch it off after work hours. Also consider turning off email “push” (this is where your email server sends each new email to your phone when it arrives at the server) and instead choose a regular schedule (such as once per hour) for emails to be delivered to your phone (this also increases battery life).
10. Avoid late night screen time
Research suggests that late night smart phone use reduces our ability to get to sleep and also leads to constant thoughts and stress about work. This in turn reduces your sleep quality. Make the bed a phone-free zone to improve your sleep hygiene.
-Ricardo Twumasi; Lecturer in Organisational Psychology, University of Manchester
-Cary Cooper; 50th Anniversary Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health, University of Manchester
–Lina Siegl; PhD Researcher, University of Manchester
The World’s Largest Airplane Takes Flight. Next Stop? Outer Space
On Saturday, the world’s largest aircraft, the Stratolaunch, made its first complete test flight. The aircraft flew for about two and a half hours over the Mojave desert, reaching a speed of 189 miles per hour and an altitude of 17,000 feet.
The aircraft was created by the Stratolaunch Systems Corporation, which was founded by the late Paul Allen. The purpose of the plane isn’t normal commercial travel, but rather to carry rockets into high altitudes, then launch those rockets from the plane itself.
“What a fantastic first flight,” Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch, said in a statement. “Today’s flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground launched systems.”
Scaled Composites, which was acquired by Northrop Grummon in 2007, worked on the design and build of the Stratolaunch aircraft. Saturday’s test flight was piloted by Scaled Composites test pilots Evan Thomas and Chris Guarente.
“I honestly could not have hoped for more on a first flight especially of an airplane of this complexity and this uniqueness,” Thomas said in a press briefing following the flight.
The Stratolaunch aircraft was first announced in 2011, and is the largest plane ever built out of composite materials. Its wingspan is 385 feet, the longest of any aircraft that has ever flown, including the Spruce Goose, which had a wingspan of about 320 feet. By comparison, a Boeing 747 has a wingspan of about 212 feet – making the Stratolaunch plane nearly twice the size. It’s propelled by six PW4056 turbofan engines, and is actually capable of launching multiple rockets on a single flight, up to about 500,000 pounds.
Airplane-launched rockets seemed at one point to be a good bet as a way of providing more convenient flights into space. Scaled Composites won the Ansari X Prize for launching the first private, reusable spacecraft into space in June of 2004. That effort was backed by Paul Allen, and this approach was not only adopted by Stratolaunch but also by Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.
However, it’s taken much longer than expected to develop these types of spaceflight. Virgin Galactic only first reached a space-approaching altitude at the end of 2018 – 14 years after that first Scaled Composite flight – though it hopes to be providing passenger service as early as later this year. Stratolaunch at one time was developing a rocket for its aircraft, but abandoned that effort earlier this year.
Rather than launch its own rockets, Stratolaunch has shifted strategy to be a platform for other aircraft-launched rockets. In particular, for Northrop Grummon’s Pegasus family of rockets. First demonstration Pegasus flights off of the Stratolaunch plane are scheduled for 2020.
Though they’ve taken longer to develop, the arrival of private plane-launched rockets via Virgin and Stratolaunch may be well-timed, as more satellite startups are looking for options to get satellites into space on their own timetable. Rockets launched from airplanes have more flexibility in terms of timing than their counterparts that launch from the ground, which may be a critical factor for companies looking to build up constellations in a hurry.
-Alex Knapp; Forbes Staff
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