Simple rules to help you to remain secure online

According to Interpol’s 2022 Africa Cyberthreat Assessment report, South Africa is the cybercrime hub of Africa.

There’s no question that the evolution of digital devices has made our lives so much easier. We practically live online and the secret ingredient that makes us come back for more is convenience.

Our increasingly connected world means we can shop, bank, visit friends and even do our jobs without leaving the comfort of our homes. Unfortunately, all this convenience has given us a false sense of security.

Cybercriminals stealing identities

Cybercriminals are increasingly tapping into our trusting nature or playing on our fears to steal our money and identities.

According to Interpol’s 2022 Africa Cyberthreat Assessment report, South Africa is the cybercrime hub of Africa and the number of victims seem to be growing each year.

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The report stated that for African member countries, the highest-reported and most pressing cyberthreat across the region was identified as online scamming. This kind of threat targets victims’ fears and vulnerabilities through methods such as phishing, mass mailing and social engineering.

The report showed a sharp increase in the number of online banking scams, including instances of banking and credit card fraud. The good news is that you can protect yourself from cybercriminals, keep your money safe and continue to enjoy the convenience that comes with conducting life online.

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Load shedding permitting, of course. It doesn’t take much to be secure online, but it will save you so much in the long run.

Protecting yourself online is as easy as following these simple rules:

  • Use strong passwords: Use unique, complex passwords for each of your online accounts. Avoid using personal information such as your name, birthdate or address in your passwords. Use passwords that are not too difficult to remember and mean something to you to avoid writing them down so they don’t end up in the wrong hands.
  • Enable two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring a second form of verification such as a fingerprint or a code sent to your phone.
  • Keep your software up to date: Keep your computer and mobile devices up to date with the latest security patches and software updates. This helps to protect against known vulnerabilities that cybercriminals may exploit.
  • Avoid suspicious e-mails and links: Be cautious about suspicious e-mails and links as they may contain malware or lead to phishing scams. Phishing is an attack that attempts to steal your money or identity by getting you to reveal personal information such as credit card numbers, bank information or passwords by pretending to be legitimate. These types of e-mails often have an urgency to them and encourage you to do something immediately and create fear. Make sure you verify the sender and the link before clicking on anything.
  • Use anti-virus and anti-malware software: Install anti-virus and anti-malware software on your devices to protect against viruses, spyware and other malicious software. You can get viruses from downloads over the internet, from opening e-mail attachments or from another infected system or device – so it’s important to ensure your system is protected.
  • Secure your Wi-Fi: Many of us rely on our home Wi-Fi networks especially as working from home becomes normal, so it is important to protect all your data. Use a strong, unique password for your Wi-Fi network and enable encryption to prevent unauthorised access. Also keep your router’s software up to date and download the latest security patches. Check that your wireless router’s firewall is turned on or organise a good firewall solution on your system to guard against malicious access attempts on your wireless network.
  • Back up your data: Back up your important data regularly to protect against data loss in case of a cyberattack. There are several ways to ensure your data is backed up, such as investing in external storage devices or purchasing cloud storage. As with any environment in which there are a lot of people you do not know, it’s vital that you stay vigilant when you are online. Cybercriminals are always adapting their tactics to ensnare new victims, so it helps to be digitally savvy and to keep your devices, information and passwords safe and secure.

ALSO READ: ‘SA passports among cheapest being sold on dark web’ – study

-Nzama is African Bank’s deputy chief risk officer.

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