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What your South African ID number means and what it reveals about you

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A database containing sensitive personal data, including South African ID numbers and plain text passwords, was discovered on a public web server belonging to ViewFines last year.

Prior to this, Home Affairs leaked data through a contact form on its website – while a real estate group exposed a database containing a variety of details of essentially every South African in 2017.

Security experts such as SensePost CTO Dominic White told MyBroadband that even a small amount of leaked personal data can empower an attacker to gain access to private information. This can grant attackers access to your accounts, for example.

White demonstrated this by using the leaked information of a coworker to hack into their online medical aid account. This gave him access to the ID numbers and full names of dependents and their recent medical records.

In addition to this, your ID number itself reveals a lot of information about you – as detailed below.

Decoding the ID number

A South African ID number is a 13-digit number which is defined by the following format: YYMMDDSSSSCAZ.

  • The first six digits (YYMMDD) are based on your date of birth. For example, 23 January 1988 becomes 880123. Although rare, it can happen that someone’s birth date does not correspond with their ID number.
  • The next four digits (SSSS) are used to define your gender, with only the first digit of the sequence relevant. Females have a number of 0 to 4, while males are 5 to 9.
  • The next digit (C) is 0 if you are an SA citizen, or 1 if you are a permanent resident.
  • The next digit (A) was used until the late 1980s to indicate a person’s race. This has been eliminated and old ID numbers were reissued to remove this.
  • The last digit (Z) is a checksum digit, used to check that the number sequence is accurate using the Luhn algorithm.

South African ID number

Pre-democracy classifications

Before the race group classification was abandoned, this is what digit A in the ID number indicated:

  • 0 — White
  • 1 – Cape Coloured
  • 2 – Malay
  • 3 – Griqua
  • 4 – Chinese
  • 5 – Indian
  • 6 – Other Asian
  • 7 – Other Coloured

Old-ID-book

Validating ID numbers

The last digit of a South African ID number is calculated using the Luhn algorithm, which allows for basic error detection.

To check whether an ID number is valid, the Luhn algorithm may be applied as follows:

  1. Working from the rightmost digit of the number, double every second digit.
  2. Add the digits of this result together.
  3. Sum together the resultant digits, with the remaining (odd) digits of the ID number.
  4. If this sum is divisible by 10 (without remainder), the ID number is valid.

An example of this calculation, using our fictional ID number from before, is shown below:

8 8 0 1 2 3 5 1 1 1 0 8 8
16 2 6 2 2 16
7 2 6 2 2 7
8 7 0 2 2 6 5 2 1 2 0 7 8
  • Sum: 8 + 7+ 0 + 2 + 2 + 6 + 5 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 0 + 7 + 8 = 50
  • 50 ÷ 10 = 5, remainder 0
  • Therefore: ID number is valid

Now read: Why Capitec won’t get Smart ID services in its branches

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Newspaper headlines: Prince Andrews ‘squirms’ in ‘bombshell’ interview

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Newspaper headlines: Prince Andrews ‘squirms’ in ‘bombshell’ interview


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The Observer is one of several papers to lead with Prince Andrew’s “bombshell” interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis, which was broadcast on Saturday evening. The paper focuses on the alibi which the Duke of York gave when asked about Virginia Giuffre’s claim he had sex with her when she was a teenager. The duke said on the night of the alleged encounter, he was at home after a visit to Pizza Express. The paper describes the prince’s account of his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein as “sometimes rambling and contradictory”.

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The Mail on Sunday focuses on some of the reaction from viewers, many of whom it says were shocked by Prince Andrew’s apparent “total lack of empathy” for Epstein’s victims. The newspaper says the prince was “humiliated” in the “disastrous” TV interview. The duke “looked deeply uncomfortable” during the grilling, the paper adds.

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The Sunday Mirror’s headline refers to part of Prince Andrew’s interview where he was asked about Virginia Giuffre’s description of dancing with the prince, saying he sweated profusely and she went on to have a bath. The duke – the Queen’s third child – said he “couldn’t sweat” at that time because of a medical condition.

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The Sunday Express carries a large picture of Prince Andrew on its front page, alongside the main points from the interview, which it calls “amazing”. But the paper’s main story is on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s nationalisation plans which the paper reports could pose a risk to millions of private pensions.

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The Sunday Telegraph also carries a picture of Prince Andrew, but its main story is on the election. It has interviewed Boris Johnson – his first newspaper interview of the campaign – who has claimed that every Conservative parliamentary candidate has personally pledged to back his Brexit deal in the Commons. The paper says the “highly unusual decision” is designed to help convince Leave supporters that the Tories will deliver Brexit.

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Sunday’s Daily Star leads with the forecast of more rain from the Met Office, warning of “flood chaos” over the festive period. The weather experts have told emergency services and councils to prepare for more rain than normal over the coming months, the paper says.

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The Sunday People leads with an interview with a woman who says she was attacked by a serial rapist who had previously been imprisoned in his home country of Romania for two almost identical rapes, the paper says, before he came into Britain.

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The Sunday Times’s top story is on a year-long investigation, carried out with BBC Panorama, which found military commanders have been accused of covering up evidence of British soldiers’ involvement in war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defence said extensive investigations into allegations had been carried out, and no decision had been taken to prosecute any of the cases. Meanwhile, the paper has seen a leak of the parliamentary report into Russian interference, which found meddling by Russia may have had an impact on the Brexit referendum but the effect was “unquantifiable”.

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New Micro 3D Printing Technology Wins Prestigious NZ Engineering Award

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Long-time Slashdot reader ClarkMills quotes New Zealand’s Innovation Agency:

New 3D printing technology creating highly detailed objects, smaller than a strand of human hair, has won the 2019 ENVI Engineering Innovation Award (Engineering New Zealand Awards). Micromaker3D, powered by breakthrough Laminated Resin Printing (LRP), makes it easy and more accessible to create detailed submillimetre structures for applications such as sensors, wearables, point-of-care diagnostics, micro-robotics or aerospace components…. LRP enables the printing of submillimetre structures with complex geometries of up to 100 per cent density, in extraordinary low-layer thicknesses and with imaging speeds as quick as one second per layer independent of complexity or density…

The judges saw MicroMaker3D as a gamechanger and believe it will spark many other innovations… The ENVI Engineering Innovation Award category is described as: “A breathtakingly clever engineering project or product that has solved an age-old problem or shifted from the ‘always done this way’ mentality….”

Callaghan Innovation is working to take the technology global, from the development and demonstration phase to commercial reality…
Lead engineer Neil Glasson points out that while a human hair is about 100 microns in width, “we’re looking at five-micron resolution.”

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Quantum Computer Made From Photons Achieves New Record

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Slashdot reader hackingbear shared this article from Scientific American:

In the race to create a quantum computer that can outperform a classical one, a method using particles of light (photons) has taken a promising step forward. Jian-Wei Pan and Chao-Yang Lu, both at the University of Science and Technology of China, and their colleagues improved a quantum computing technique called boson sampling to achieve a record 14 detected photons in its final results. Previous experiments were capped at only five detected photons. The increase in the number of the particles is small, but it amounts to a 6.5-billion-fold gain in “state space,” or the number of ways in which a computer system can be configured. The larger the state space, the less likely a classical computer can perform the same calculation.

The result was reported in a paper posted at the preprint server arXiv.org on October 22 and has yet to be peer-reviewed. But if it is confirmed, it would be an important milestone in the race for quantum-computational supremacy — a fuzzy goalpost defined as the point where quantum computers outpace their best classical counterparts…. Pan and Lu argue in their paper that their technique is another possible route toward quantum supremacy… Part of the trouble is its limited utility. “A universal computer can solve any different type of problem,” says Jonathan Dowling, a theoretical physicist at Louisiana State University, who was not involved with the research. “This can only solve one.” But solving just one problem faster than a classical computer would count as a demonstration of quantum-computational supremacy…

Over the past few weeks, the race for quantum computational supremacy has reached a breakneck pace. Google’s quantum computer performed an operation that its scientists claim would take a classical computer 10,000 years in just 200 seconds. IBM researchers, who are also working on a quantum computer, have expressed doubts, suggesting a classical computer could solve that problem in under three days… “Quantum supremacy is like a horse race where you don’t know how fast your horse is, you don’t know how fast anybody else’s horse is, and some of the horses are goats,” Jonathan Dowling, a theoretical physicist at Louisiana State University, says. But this result, he clarifies, is not a goat.

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