Tag: mauritius

Tips for Mauritians traveling abroad for holidays

Traveling abroad demands a lot of planning and preparation including budgeting. In this blog post, I will share some of my experience and tips whilst traveling abroad especially for holidays or business purposes from Mauritius. Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean. The strategic location in the Indian Ocean makes it very easy to travel to Europe, Africa, and Asia continents. But it all depends on the number of airlines available. I have been traveling to the United States, South Africa, Tunisia, Reunion island and several other countries. You can check out this link – My Travel which I usually update each time I travel abroad. The first thing before I started planning anything is to know the number of days you want to stay out of Mauritius.

Photo credits: vectorstock.com
Photo credits: vectorstock.com

VISA Requirements

Mauritians are exempted from VISA from many countries. Though there is an exemption, you need to carefully check the number of days you are exempted. Otherwise, if you are staying for more than the allocated number of days, you might need to ask for an extension of the visa once you have reached a particular country. The process which you need to go through when extending the visa can be very time-consuming. This is why planning is important where you can easily apply for the visa before leaving Mauritius territory.

For countries where VISA is needed you need to apply the same before leaving. However, some countries issue a visa upon arrival. But common, no one wants to waste time to apply for a visa upon arrival of a particular country unless you do not have any choice. For instance, it is better to apply for a visa in Mauritius itself before going to Bangkok, Thailand.

Some of the countries where Mauritians can travel freely without a visa are Senegal, Botswana, South Africa, etc.

Tips for Mauritians traveling abroad for holidays 1

An interesting source of information is at Visalist.io/mauritius/visa-policies website which provides clear information by country. However, this should not be a definite decision to check if it is a visa free country. Any country can alter its visa requirement and it is important to verify the information on the official website of the embassy.

Health-related issues and vaccinations

So, now that you are aware of the visa requirements, it is now to question yourself about the vaccines you have received. It is always important to keep records and document all vaccines received. Some months back, the Ministry of health in Mauritius was giving free MMR ( Measles Mump Rubella ) vaccines in Mauritius. They came to the office where I was working and everyone was receiving the MMR booster. Many was not documenting it which I believe is not good. Always keep a vaccination card handy and document it.

There are several recommendations by the ministry of health about the vaccines that one should be given when traveling to other countries. For example, I had to get the Yellow vaccines and malaria prevention pills when traveling to Senegal.

One of the interesting online resources for health-related issues that I would recommend is the CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. One vaccination center in Mauritius is situated at Mutual aid building in Port Louis. There is another private vaccination center in Mauritius too such as Darnee Medical Clinic located at Forest-side Curepipe. Make sure that the vaccinations are available and also if one particular vaccine needs to be administered in two or more shots at different days, make sure that the vaccination is not out of stock. Otherwise, you might end up repeating the whole process again.

Sometimes, border control officers will not allow a passenger to enter its territory if you don’t have the vaccination cards with you. A few months back at the airport of South Africa, I noticed a passenger who was not in possession of the vaccination card. Usually, there is no vaccination required. But it happens that the passenger had traveled during the past weeks to a country where yellow fever vaccine was needed. They wanted to check if the passenger was properly vaccinated. This might, therefore, raise an issue. Always carry your vaccination cards with you when traveling abroad.

Booking a ticket

When it comes to reservation of tickets, I have never been to any agency for ticket booking which can be very expensive and time-consuming. The best to check on the official website of the airline company first. Now, you might question yourself, say you want to go to Bangkok and which airline will you choose. Here is the catch: The ATOL website might be very useful. On the ‘Airline section‘, you will have a list of all airlines that travel to Mauritius. Once, you have spotted the airline company you can compare prices. Another interesting place to purchase ticket more easily is on lastminute.com which makes it fast to choose between the cheapest price to direct flight.

Once a ticket has been booked, make sure you download the mobile app of the airline company so that online checking can be very easy and fast at the same time. Also, if there is any change in the airline time scheduled, it will be updated on the app itself. Choosing your seat to become much faster and you will have a clear map of the plane seats. You might want to consider whether the plane is an Airbus or Boeing at your convenience.

Some people try to delete their cookies and cache from there browser when booking online. Airline companies feed themselves from cookies on your web browser to understand the date you want to travel and might consequently increase the price. You might consider deleting cookies each time you search for a ticket price. Also try to sign out and change the location using proxies as a ticket might be a different price from a different browsing destination.

Some Airline companies provide special meals which might be interesting in case you are allergic or vegetarian. On British Airways, a veggie meal is composed of eggs and other vegetables. Some Vegetarians do not want eggs which you might consider.

Travel and Health Insurance

Some countries insist that people visiting their country are medically insured such as Reunion island and Germany. Always verify this information before traveling abroad. Alternately, there are some credit cards issued by banks that provide free health and travel insurance. You might want to verify with your provider and gather the document to show at the customs when reaching abroad. Some travel agency such as lastminute.com can provide free travel insurance in case your luggage has been damaged or lost during transit.

Choosing a Hotel

If you are a solo traveler, a 5-star hotel can be very expensive. You might probably look for the cheapest place such as Agoda, AirBnB or booking.com. It is always a plus to read the reviews on Trip Advisor or on booking.com itself as you never know what is awaiting you ahead. Several times, I booked with booking.com and most of the time it went well as expected. If you want a 10% discount with booking.com, click on the picture below and register yourself.

Tips for Mauritians traveling abroad for holidays 2

Make sure you check for the basic amenities, including showers, heaters, air conditioning, towels, Internet and/or Wifi access etc.. Sometimes, prices can be very cheap and the pictures shown can be very deceptive. It is always important to read reviews. Also for Mauritians who might want to stay in a cold place, make sure there is a heater. You can always contact the hotel directly via booking.com to clarify anything before paying.

Weather Forecast and Risks related issues

Always check the temperature at day and night before traveling. Weather.com provides good information about that. If you are traveling to China, you might want to check the level of Air pollution. Aqicn.com is a good source of information as air density is also important before booking a hotel. Some mobile app also provides air density information. Another tip and risk related issues can be checked on the US embassy website of that particular country you are visiting. In case, there is no embassy make sure to check local media of that country to be informed of any eventual attacks.

Losing network can be an issue when traveling abroad. I would recommend using maps.me mobile app and download offline maps in case there is an emergency. Also always share your location with a trusted contact.

My handbag checklist items when traveling:

  • Battery bank
  • Laptops and chargers
  • A bag containing all basic electronic items such as universal chargers, cables, Pendrives, etc..
  • Face wipes
  • Toiletries
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tripod
  • One spare clothing in case my check-in luggage gets lost
  • Earpods / Earpiece
  • Passport / Printed travel documents and other documents if needed.
  • Electronic backups of all documents on my mobile phone.
  • Sunglasses

Some Tips:

  • Online booking will surely cost you cheaper and the online agency will surely take a certain commission for the transaction. Always print your receipt and be careful that the hotel does not double charge you on arrival.
  • Scammers are everywhere whether online or onsite, usually in front of hotels, where some fake tourist guide trying to scam tourist.
  • Make sure you always consume boiled or bottle water to reduce the risks of getting contaminated. A hand sanitizer becomes very important as the level of bacteria is very high in airports, planes, and hotels.
  • An Airplane pillow might also be helpful especially if you are traveling in economy.
  • Always establish a friendly approach with the security personnel, reception staffs, etc.
  • Always pack smartly your luggage.
  • Here is an interesting link on my-anasa.com as a travel guide for dummies.
  • Always inform your bank and Network and Internet service provider that you are outside the country so that you can use your bank debit cards and roaming service without any hassle.
  • Shuttle arrangement when reaching the country. Uber can be very useful in some countries.

I hope you find this blog post interesting and helpful. I will try my best to update it as soon as I come across interesting tips in the future.

IETF 103 hackathon remotely by cyberstorm.mu – Day 1

Day-0 for the IETF 103 hackathon was really fun. We had two first-timers who worked pretty hard. It was really an intense moment on Day 1. Everyone was busy with their projects. I should admit it was pretty intense. Our first pull request was already merged by Muzaffar from the TLS 1.3 whereas kheshav had the testing part to complete for HTTP 451. I already send a pull request for SSH for the NetSSH Ruby library. We discussed a lot on implementation and testing part. Nathan, Jeremy, and Rahul also worked heavily on the TLS 1.3 implementation. For the IETF 103, we decide to skip the interoperability testing and focus more on implementation.

IETF 103 DAY1

IETF 103 hackathon remotely by cyberstorm.mu - Day 1 3
Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: WP Frank

When it comes to goodies, WolfSSL congratulated us for a good job and sent us several goodies and other stuff.

IETF 103 hackathon remotely by cyberstorm.mu - Day 1 4

However, on the SSH side, we have to deprecate RC4 in several projects such as NetSSH and JSCH, a JAVA library. On TLS 1.3, SNI added to Httperf, a TLS 1.3 library is still on progress on CSharp and LUA. We also have one module for Drupal and Django for HTTP 451.

cyberstorm.mu – Going further and beyond from Mauritius to Africa and Worldwide

We are for free and opensource software. We are presenting Mauritius worldwide in the IT sector. We are a Linux and Open source group which is going further and beyond. We believe in collaborative work and team spirit. We believed in running codes. We strived for excellence. We have contributed codes in several popular applications. We have worked on Internet-Drafts. We participate heavily in Hackathons.

Proudly designed by: Chromiko, member of cyberstorm.mu
Proudly designed by Chromiko, member of cyberstorm.mu

It is with this vision and a strong will for a great change that cyberstorm.mu was born days back. After participating in several groups, we are now aiming for a better Mauritius. Cyberstorm.mu is just like the wrestling ring to fight for a better Internet. The world is going to benefit from it. The members who started running the cyberstorm.mu group are Loganaden Velvindron, Codarren Velvindron, Kifah Meeran, Veegish Ramdani, Muzaffar Auhammud, Nigel Yong, Jagveer Loky, Nathan Sunil Mangar, Jeremie Daniel, Heervesh Lallbahadur and myself (Nitin J Mutkawoa).

cyberstorm.mu - Going further and beyond from Mauritius to Africa and Worldwide 5
The team met at Flying Dodo, Bagatelle with a sip of Jack Daniel

The next step of cyberstorm.mu is championing several tracks for the IETF 103 hackathon remotely at Bangkok, Thailand. We have been welcomed by many people both from Mauritius and overseas, even from Silicon Valley, USA. No wonder, our past achievements is now a new step to reach today’s objectives – To focus heavily on research and development. Loganaden Velvindron from cyberstorm.mu mentioned on his Medium blog about the change cyberstorm.mu want to achieve: “The name cyberstorm.mu is an interesting one. It’s about change coming. Don’t get me wrong: I still love hacking. For me, hacking is about finding clever solutions to problems.” The youngest guy from the team is also going to participate in the IETF 103 hackathon.

The roadmap of cyberstorm.mu has already been plotted. We believe about us as a team moving in the right direction and showcase Mauritius worldwide. Feel free to join our cyberstorm.mu community Facebook group with a real profile’s name and you would be welcome. We are also present on Twitter and GitHub. Kindly note that all members of cyberstorm.mu have their official @cyberstorm.mu E-mail address. Otherwise, you can also contact us at [email protected] 

What other’s are saying about cyberstorm.mu?

Charles Eckel, Chairman of the IETF Hackathon :

cyberstorm.mu - Going further and beyond from Mauritius to Africa and Worldwide 6

Peter Loshin from TechTarget:

cyberstorm.mu - Going further and beyond from Mauritius to Africa and Worldwide 7

Infotech Mauritius 2018 at National Computer Board stand

I thank the guys of the National Computer Board who welcomed me, Logan and Codarren on their stand at the Infotech 2018. For those who are not acquainted with the Infotech event in Mauritius – “INFOTECH is the major annual Information and Communication Technology (ICT) event organized in Mauritius by the National Computer Board (NCB) in collaboration with the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation. The aim is to create awareness on emerging technologies and provide business opportunities in the ICT sector.” 

Photo Credits: infotech.govmu.org
Photo Credits: infotech.govmu.org

On reaching there, we met with Mr. Ismael and Mr. Riyaad and other staffs of the NCB, who provided us with a huge screen for our presentation and showcase of Linux, TLS1.3, DNS Security, IETF, Google Code-In and Google Summer of code events. I had the opportunity to meet several people including businessmen, students, and other geeks in the Mauritius IT industry.

Next, to the NCB stand, we had the CSE robotics club where I met with Chromiko who gave me some of his stickers. I still have some to share. Who wants one?

Infotech Mauritius 2018 at National Computer Board stand 8

I also had the opportunity to shed some lights about Google search methodology and Computer networking with some students.

infotech2018

The Robotics club

The Robotics club

IMG_1468
Free sticks

Free sticks

Myself with the students

Myself with the students

Codarren talking with some students

Codarren talking with some students

Logan and Aniket

Logan and Aniket

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They are Anup Kumar Khadoo, Shamutally Shahabudeen Mohammad Arfhaan, and Gowardun Madhav who are Computer Networking students at MITD. The following example was illustrated: Imagine you want to look for PDF books on Computer Networking. One of the technique to search more rapidly is by typing:

index of: computer networking (pdf|doc)

In case you want to ignore certain results; assume the word ‘wireless’, we can try this as search techniques on google search engine by typing:

index of: computer networking (pdf|doc) -wireless

We also had the opportunity to talk about computer networking topics such as Wireless Security, Subnetting, and others. Whilst returning home, I seized the opportunity to shoot this beautiful view.

Infotech Mauritius 2018 at National Computer Board stand 9

Pervasive Monitoring and Security in Africa

If you think about the number of attacks on the rise in the world, statistics and figures would prove you all. For example, if you think about preventing attacks such as Man-in-the-Middle attacks, guidance in implementing the right TLS Protocol, formerly called SSL is important. TLS is the security protocol that underlies the web. Passive attacks such as tapping – Monitoring of unencrypted communications, Encryption – Intercepting encrypted information flows, Scanning – Scanning ports connected on the Internet and Traffic analysis – building and processing of information from data analysis are surely on the rise. The RFC 7258 as described emphasized on pervasive monitoring mitigations where possible. Pervasive monitoring is also described as an attack and therefore it is an offense.

 

In 2017, we had so many cybersecurity disasters – Active attacks such as the Shadow Brokers which claimed to have breached the spy tools of the elite NSA-linked operation known as the Equation Group. We had also the WannaCry which netted almost 52 bitcoins, or about $130,000. The Wikileaks CIA Vault 7 which contains alleged spying operations and hacking tools. The cyberstorm.mu team, clearly reacted on this issue under the Operation Crypto Redemption and submitted several patches and encouraged many Open Source organizations to patch up those vulnerabilities. According to Africa News, only South Africa seem to be impacted. It can clearly be seen that the attackers know which country they are aiming during mass phishing. 

AFRICA least hit by WANNACRY - Photo credits Africanews.com

AFRICA least hit by WANNA CRY – Photo credits Africanews.com

But hey! If you give a thought about it. Did the attackers really aimed in Africa? Why Africa was not really impacted? I highly doubt that there was pervasive monitoring prior to the attack. It may also not be the case due to phishing as it depends on who got trapped with the malware. Still, phishing on large scale can be behind the intelligence of Pervasive monitoring! On the other hand, Checkpoint demonstrated how the risk is high in Africa with a map below displays the risk index globally (green – low risk, red- high-risk risker, white – insufficient data), demonstrating the main risk areas around the world.

Photo Credits: Checkpoint.com
Photo Credits: Checkpoint.com

Several countries were listed as white due to insufficient data which could account to reliable data about the risk index in the African continent. Of course, it describes active attacks risks in the African continent. Attacks over countries are now evolving. What I mean is that there could be first a pervasive monitoring system which helps attackers to move further towards their target for example: When to perform mass phishing to get more money!

The fundamental of pervasive monitoring remains mostly about building profiles of a person. It is clear that many are vulnerable to these type of attacks due to the presence on social media and social networks. A nation can be a target! Staffs from a particular company can be a target! But what is most sensible is when the data from pervasive monitoring has already been processed into meaningful information, attackers can sell that information which cost millions and maybe billions of dollars.

 

Over the past decade, the billion people who live in Africa have experienced the fastest growth the continent has ever seen, and many of its countries (Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Guinea) are among the fastest growing in the world. A growing body of evidence backs our view that as Africa’s population doubles to two billion over the next several decades, its GDP will increase from $2 trillion today to $29 trillion in today’s money by 2050.  What has changed? Many governments have learned from their mistakes and seen the positive reform examples not just in Asia, but more importantly in Africa itself, from Mauritius to Botswana and Cape Verde, and now Ghana to Rwanda. In most countries there has been no single reform miracle, like China’s in 1978 or India’s in 1991, but rather a series of small steps which taken together have been just as powerful. – cnn.com

Photo Credits: African-markets.com
Photo Credits: African-markets.com

Since Africa is on the edge of a rich economy boom, passive attacks will be on the rise probably from many other countries which will want to invest heavily. But where to invest? How much to invest? The information will be on sale probably from a cheap pervasive monitoring instead of an expensive survey!

We all knew that it is difficult to detect pervasive monitoring. However, I believe that data which had been processed from pervasive monitoring can still be analyzed again to understand how it was used. For example, Pervasive data gathered during a previous election campaign comparison with a new election campaign. The dark web is not just being used by individuals. According to Corregedor, private organizations and governments are increasingly using it as a source of threat intelligence. With the threat of cybercrime comes the threat of cyber warfare, and state-sponsored attacks on multinational corporations or other countries. South Africa, as with any other country, is equally at risk from this kind of threat, Corredegor says, because it is difficult to monitor the dark web for national threat intelligence. – mg.co.za

As the first defense, it would be better to adopt TLS to prevent eavesdropping. The use of DNSSEC, SMTP Strict Transport Security and various other security protocols should be taken into consideration. Bear in mind that DNS tells all about you, from where you shop, what you shop online, what web pages you looked out and what you purchased! ISPs should enforce security protocols such as PKIs (Public Key Infrastructure), DANE (DNS Authentication of Named Entities) and DKIM (Domain Keys Infrastructure Mails). Improving internet infrastructure must progress before it is too late. Emails that are not digitally signed are also a good source of data to be processed anew. A simple example of dead.letters can be a source of getting gathering data on the internet.

Pervasive Monitoring and Security in Africa 10

According to The New York Times, the NSA is monitoring approximately 100,000 computers worldwide with spy software named Quantum. Quantum enables the NSA to conduct surveillance on those computers on the one hand, and can also create a digital highway for launching cyber attacks. A Proof of Concept explained by NetreseC how to detect “Quantum Insert” in the network environment.

 

One of the various reasons we don’t have much privacy in the online world is that people simply don’t realize the amount of information they leak daily. Worst is when companies leak information on staffs. To resolve such scenarios, since computer today are fast enough, norms to ensure that companies are implementing the use of TCPcrypt can be made mandatory.

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