American entrepreneur Adrian Shatku is the founder of New York-based UNIFI Communications, one of the largest carriers of international voice traffic and a leading provider of enhanced telecommunication services and solutions in the world. UNIFI provides international voice traffic and telephony solutions with more than 22 points of presence and 250+ bilateral interconnects. The company’s services include voice, data transport, VoIP, mobile and infrastructure solutions. Total active subscribers using UNIFI services have grown to more than 100 million subscribers.
Shatku has been aggressively expanding UNIFI’s business in Africa and recently spent a few minutes with me to chat about a subject he is passionate about – the challenges and opportunities inherent to cyber-security and protections in telecommunication in emerging markets. Excerpts below:
What can be done to safeguard digital intelligence in emerging markets like Africa?
In today’s digital era, it is estimated that internet penetration amounts to roughly 49.7% of the global population, with 91% of the world’s internet users coming from emerging markets such as Africa. Even in areas historically left out of connectivity, such as many African countries, access to the internet and the variety of services that comes with it is budding. For example, it is estimated in a study by Internet World Stats, as of March 2017, that 28.3% of the African continent hosts active internet users.
However, by that same notion, we’ve seen a rise of ‘ransom-ware’ in Africa and an increase in social media scams, and email threats. Business email scams and malware are prevalent, particularly those that showcase unchecked vulnerabilities. All are truly at risk – from the practitioner’s position, operators in Africa are suffering massive losses in profitability and functionality. African governments’ lose in the collectability of taxes, subject to hacking and even misappropriation.
These are in part motivations as to why we recently purchased WIS Telecoms, one of the top 15 carriers in the world, to bridge that gap and increase our geographic footprint in both the EU and Africa by doing so.
It ultimately comes as no surprise that the globalizing industry of telecommunications needs to evolve and defend from within, as it is more and more frequently relied upon for storing and sharing multimedia, communicating via text and email, social media liaison, finance management (money lending), education, healthcare and general information gathering. Our access to the Internet enables us to retrieve the most information possible, at the fastest pace; however, this can occur with the interception of such data often disregarded.
For the hacking community, how is the global advent of en masse technological usage fortuitous?