How To Stay Safe Online

We are finding ourselves spending more and more time online and in virtual worlds on our mobile devices and computers. South Africans are online for longer everyday than any other nationality according to the Digital 2022-Global Overview report. The worldwide average for internet usage is seven hours a day. Japanese people spend less than five hours a day on a device that is connected to the internet. Working age South Africans, however, average out at ten hours and forty-six minutes a day.

Social media usage is also likely to be used more for work purposes in the country than anywhere else in the world. The report said that internet users aged 16-64 were asked about the use of social media in their working environment. Over a third in this category said that social media was an integral part of their professional endeavors.

With so much time being spent online, it is worth making sure that access is being done safely and that people are not exposing themselves to the risk of scammers or those wishing to harvest data for fraudulent means.

The first thing to do is ensure that any website visited is HTTPS and not just HTTP. The S stands for secure. Companies that value their customers’ security will ensure that their websites are as safe as possible from cyber-attack. If the site is not secure, the recommendation is, do not visit it. If you do, then do not enter any of your data there.

Consider installing a VPN (Virtual Parallel Network). A VPN helps you browse securely by hiding your location and encrypting your connection. While this is less important when you are working from home because you use a username and password to log in, a VPN will prevent some forms of tracking that companies like to collect to monetize your data.

Do not use public WIFI networks to do any sensitive work or transactions online. Hackers can easily intercept any data that you send or receive. This could include bank account details, credit card numbers, and login details.

Cybercriminals often use Malware to get at your data. These can often be in the form of pop-ups that, when you click on them, download viruses to your computer. They then infect your computer systems, destroy files and mess with the overall functionality of your computer. What is worse is they then self-replicate to jump to other devices and systems and you could find yourself passing on the virus to friends and colleagues. If you are PC-based, make sure that you have anti-virus software installed to stop the attacks before they start.

Make sure that you are accessing trusted sites and not replicas that some hackers set up for phishing scams. A good way to find these is by following links from trusted review sites such as Trust Pilot or Yelp. If you are into online gambling, do not simply be tempted by the biggest offer or largest pot, use a trusted comparison site to find the best online casinos in South Africa. Make sure you are gaming in a legal and reputable way.

To keep your transactions safe consider using a digital wallet. This could be PayPal, Google, or Apple pay. A digital wallet means that you can keep all your transactions safe in one place and not give out your payment information any more than is strictly necessary. Most digital wallets use two-step authentication. With PayPal, this means that after you have logged in you are sent an authentication code that only you can access which you then have to enter onto the app or website.

Finally, and possibly most importantly, do not use the same password across multiple sites. If you do, if a hacker gets access to one website storing your information, they get access to all the websites and all your data. You might want to consider using a password manager like Last Pass to generate, save, and autofill your passwords for you.

Back to top button