There is an upsurge of email scams, otherwise known as phishing scam where email conversations are intended to trick victims into making payments into a fraudulent bank account. At DewCIS, we take this opportunity to alert Internet users against ongoing email scammers who manipulate email addresses to deceive the victims into trusting the authenticity of the email and obtain sensitive information.
The scam starts by the fraudsters hijacking an otherwise very genuine email conversation between a supplier say of email address Frankline Njuguna <firstname.lastname@example.org> resident in Kenya and a genuine client John Doe <email@example.com> resident in Spain for example.
Because scammers are motivated by money, they will lay in wait and only hijack the email conversation when a prospect of payment is real.
At this point, the fraudster will create parallel seemingly similar email addresses as follows; Frankline Njuguna <firstname.lastname@example.org> for the supplier and John Doe <email@example.com for the customer.
With this communication hijacked, the fraudsters will be well positioned to act as both the supplier and the client sharing only that information they find appropriate such as fraudulent banking details to the unsuspecting client.
The supplier still believing that they are communicating with genuine client negotiates and shares quotations with the client, while the client still believing that they are dealing with the genuine supplier confidently makes payment to the fraudulent bank account. Immediately the money hits their account, the fraudsters immediately cease communication and disappear into thin air.
It is only when the client doesn’t receive the agreed services in time and either makes a call or reach out using another channel to the supplier that the parties realize that they have been defrauded.
This sort of trickery is not very sophisticated at all. The fraudsters are simply taking advantage of our “humanness”; that users do not often care to check the true email addresses of the people they are interacting with. Thus, the fraudsters simply modify the email address but retainsthe username of the source and or recipients, and therefore catching us unawares.
This is very easily done within existing domain registries. For example, it would cost someone just about $ 2 to register a shippers.com.drdomain and create an email address firstname.lastname@example.org for use to defraud unsuspecting users.
From this fraud, it is clear that the fraudsters are possibly collaborating with an insider at either the client or the supplier business; the accomplice who steals the email trail from the mailbox and shares with the fraudsters. Since this is the point of entry and therefore the weakest link, there is need to limit transactional email communications such as those with bank account details to only the necessary staff.
The other very important check is to encourage communication between the customer and the supplier using alternative channels including telephone, WhatsApp etc particularly as a follow-up to ensure the appropriate banking details are shared.
Another practical way of preventing email fraud particularly on sensitive or confidential information is to wrap the content of your emails encrypted with a password that is time bound to expire within a specified time period. To ensure that none other than the intended recipient accesses the message, the passwords ought to be sent via a different channel such as via a phone call or SMS.
While it takes practice to pay attention to domain email addresses of users, we are encourages to always be vigilant so that one can spot the tweaks and tiny differences in email addresses and catch the fraudsters on their tracks and avoid losses.
The stark reality of the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the cracks in health care systems to adequately provide support to the affected patients.
We realize the importance of ventilators as critical for the care of people with lung failure, one of the complications suffered by patients with severe COVID-19 attacks. The scarcity of ventilators is worsened by the fact that hospitals have to reserve ventilators to treat non-COVID-19 cases such as heart attacks, strokes and other emergency cases even at this time of the pandemic.
While we appreciate that the time at hand is not adequate to develop a fully compliant ventilator based on the government specifications, we believe that developing a low-cost portable automatic respirator with minimum features available to Wanjiku would save lives. Among other features, the machine should have invasive and non-invasive feature, and supports 400-700 mL tidal volume, with a continuous working capability for 2-3 days. Furthermore, any innovation must be attentive to the needs of the larger group of the population as opposed to the few.
To tackle this imminent shortage, at DewCIS we envision a simply home-made ventilator, a mechanical breathing device that is able to blow both air and oxygen into the lungs. Rather than reinventing the wheel, our innovation is to reuse locally available parts to assemble a ventilator. Our vision is to empower every homestead to own a ventilator at minimum cost, using a simple one-page instruction DIY manual.
The device is made of an automatic motor pulling a tough string pulley tied to the board, which then squeezes the bag-valve mask, often called ‘Ambu Bag,’ used for resuscitation in emergency situations, to push oxygen and air into the lungs.
Assembling “Wanjiku” Ventilator, I Prototype
The device can be assembled from locally readily reusable parts, and consumer off-the-shelf components
Motor & Motor ControllerA basic direct current (dc) motor with 7 kg torque is preferable. A car wiper motor would do. The motor controller gives the various modes of operating the motor.
Tough string1-meter long tough nylon string, easily available from a used clothe
Bag-valve maskoften called ‘Ambu Bag,’ used for resuscitation in emergency situations, available at local chemists
12V direct current (dc) supplya car battery would do, an old computer power supply module or an adaptor for the 240V alternating current (ac) supply
Arduino MicrocontrollerSupports programmable features of the apparatus.
Other parts including casing can be crafted at home or from local jua kali kiosks.
This Wanjiku ventilator is portable, and therefore adoptable in villages and other low cost residential areas without reliable power supply, and is inexpensive enough to scale up in bulk production. In dire situations, an ingenious 4-way valve splitter can be used to serve upto 4 different patients.
Future models & improvements
Craft a more durable base and casing to offer sturdy mechanism.
Introduce gears and pulleys for a smooth air flow and eliminate jerking.
Program the motor motions to allow supports of a range of tidal volumes.
Include user interface to allows selection of preset inspiratory:expiratory ratios.