Hackers are getting more resourceful at getting online users’ details. This means that one needs to become more savvy when browsing the Internet. GERHARD OOSTHUIZEN, CIO of Entersekt, shares his tips on how to be more cyber savvy and secure online.
For the everyday internet user, becoming more cyber savvy is vital. Just as we invest in personal security and keep our wits about us as we move around, so too must we be alert to threats online. Fortunately, becoming more better informed and protecting our online assets doesn’t require huge investments of either time or money. By simply keeping a few golden rules in mind, we can go about our daily internet activities with greater peace of mind, says Gerhard Oosthuizen, CIO at Entersekt.
1. Be smart about your passwords
The most commonly employed line of attack is email phishing. By persuading you to enter your username and password into a fake site or app through a cleverly crafted email, hackers can use these details to access legitimate sites or applications you use. If they have your name, hackers can simply go onto your social sites – such as Facebook and Instagram – and use clues there to guess your passwords.
For example, they might use your dog’s name or mother’s maiden name, your birthday or hometown, to answer security verification questions. The key here is to never repeat a theme, pattern or “recipe” in any of your passwords. It is advisable to use lowercase phrases as passwords (theappletree or ienjoysunsets), instead of merely using different versions of the same password. Work from the assumption that at least one site you have been on – LinkedIn, for example, or a service you may no longer even use – has been breached and your password there is being sold by hackers with tens of thousands of others.
2. Always use two-factor authentication
If an online service gives you the option, implement two-factor authentication, where you confirm your identity or specific intentions through a combination of two different touchpoints. Instead of relying solely on email to reset your password for a certain website or mobile app, two-step verification requires you (or a potential hacker) to provide more information – such as a one-time password (OTP) or an answer to a security question over a separate communication channel. This option is always available for any online platform where a transaction is taking place, although it is very rarely the default security setting. It is, therefore, up to you to ensure that two-factor authentication has been activated for the websites and mobile apps that you regularly access and on which you share personal information. This reduces the risk associated with weak, predictable or stolen passwords.
3. Use your discretion with password managers
Password managers are undoubtedly a very helpful and important tool in an age where we maintain scores of online accounts and depend on several mobile apps daily. They are generally very secure and dependable, but it is worth putting up another line of defence on certain websites that can leave you vulnerable. Use password managers for the bulk of your frequently visited sites or apps (and thus use random/complex passwords that are difficult to remember each time) but also create entirely new and unique passwords for two or three important financial/banking sites. Keep these independent of your password manager.
4. Always be a sceptic
Whenever you are working or transacting online, employ a healthy dose of scepticism and good common sense. Hackers tend to use personalised emails, for example, to lure you into clicking on an unsecure link. So if you haven’t heard from an ex-boss for five years and you receive an unexpected (but friendly) email from him or her, don’t open it. In cases like this, it is best to call the supposed sender or organisation attached to the email directly – don’t simply assume that a familiar tone means it is safe. The same applies to emails about winning or retrieving money – these should immediately trigger alarm bells. It’s always best to delete those “too good to be true” emails.
5. Employ the many tools at your disposal
There are countless tools and apps available to help you become more secure and cyber savvy. For example, websites such as have i been pwned allow you to check if you have an account that has been compromised in a data breach. You can also use VirusTotal, a free service that analyses suspicious files and URLs and “facilitates the quick detection of viruses, worms, trojans, and all kinds of malware.” It is also very important to check the validity of the security certificate on any site through which you will be transacting (if the URL starts with “http” instead of “https”, beware). Finally, always keep your devices updated with the latest software – there is a good reason why the big tech companies work so hard to continually find patches and improve their software: your safety.
Now download a bank account
Absa has introduced an end-to-end account opening for new customers, through the Absa Banking App, which can be downloaded from the Android and Apple app stores. This follows the launch of the world first ChatBanking on WhatsApp service.
This “download your account” feature enables new customers to Absa, to open a Cheque account, order their card and start transacting on the Absa Banking App, all within minutes, from anywhere and at any time, by downloading it from the App stores.
“Overall, this new capability is not only expected to enhance the customer’s digital experience, but we expect to leverage this in our branches, bringing digital experiences to the branch environment and making it easier for our customers to join and bank with us regardless of where they may be,” says Aupa Monyatsi, Managing Executive for Virtual Channels at Absa Retail & Business Banking.
“With this innovation comes the need to ensure that the security of our customers is at the heart of our digital experience, this is why the digital onboarding experience for this feature includes a high-quality facial matching check with the Department of Home Affairs to verify the customer’s identity, ensuring that we have the most up to date information of our clients. Security is supremely important for us.”
The new version of the Absa Banking App is now available in the Apple and Android App stores, and anyone with a South African ID can become an Absa customer, by following these simple steps:
- Download the Absa App
- Choose the account you would like to open
- Tell us who you are
- To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
- Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
- Tell us where you live
- Let us know what you do for a living and your income
- Click Apply.
How we use phones to avoid human contact
A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.
Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances.
Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?
The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.
In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.
Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.
Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”
To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:
· I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?
With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.
· Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?
Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.
· I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?
Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.