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How to protect digital identity

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Identity theft is no longer something out of the movies – it’s a common occurrence in South Africa. There are however a few precautions you can take to prevent yourself from becoming a victim, says RIAAN BADENHORST, MD of Kaspersky Lab Africa.

Having your identity stolen by a cyber-criminal might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but it is a very real risk for any connected South African. People have become comfortable with doing virtually anything online, but few spare a thought to what would happen if their digital identity gets compromised.

Despite the moral objections that exist, the recent Ashley Madison hack has put the spotlight on the need to protect personal data. But, the sad reality is that even this has not had a significant effect with many people still not taking the necessary precautions. When it comes to securing your personal data in a digital world, you can never be too careful.

Identity theft goes hand-in-hand with phishing scams. While most email clients have spam filters built-in, this does not mean you are completely protected against fraudulent emails. People need to be cognisant that most reputable companies will not request personal identifiable information or account details via email. This includes your bank, health care provider, and even online shopping sites. As a result, never open attachments in these emails and do not click on any links embedded in the message. This is a sure-fire way you will fall prey to identity theft.

With this in mind, it pays to be aware of the popular scams doing the rounds. Sure, we can joke about that inheritance you are supposed to be getting from an African royal family member, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are ever unsure about an email, contact the institution from where it claims to come from. Most South African financial institutions and even mobile operators have scam lines designed to keep you informed.

Another vital aspect of protecting your online identity is using strong passwords. These are not the names of your pets or your date of birth. In fact, it is advisable to avoid using any word that can be found in a dictionary. You should create a unique password for each site you have a login for that, ideally, and include long combinations of letters, numerals, and non-alphanumeric symbols. It is also important to change your passwords often.

Building on from this, never store your financial data on any of the sites you use. There is no disputing the convenience of buying with the click of a button and not completing the same credit card forms every time. But it is really worth the extra minute it takes to fill in the form and not risk compromising your financial data.

Despite taking all these measures, no person can be completely vigilant all the time across all devices. For this reason, it is always a good idea to have some form of cyber-security solution installed. Ideally, such a solution would need to work across devices and cater for everything from anti-virus protection to Internet security and email safety. Some might even have a Privacy Cleaner or similar data scrubbing tool that effectively wipes your personal data from any device.

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AppDate: Shedding light in our times of darkness

SEAN BACHER’S app roundup highlights two load-shedding apps, along with South AfriCAM, NBA 2K Mobile, Virgin Mobile’s Spot 3.0 and SwiftKey.

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Load Shedding Notifier

With all the uncertainty about when South Africans will next be plunged into darkness by Eskom, the Load Shedding Notifier tries its best to keep up with Eskom’s schedule. The app is very simple to use. Download it, type an area in and click the save button. The app automatically tells you what load shedding stage Eskom is on, the times you can expect to start lighting candles and for how long to burn them.

Multiple areas can be added and one can switch between the different stages to see how each one will affect a certain area.

A grid status is also displayed, showing how strained the country’s electrical network is.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

EskomSePush Load Shedding App

EskomSePush does much the same as the Load Shedding Notifier, but allows multiple cities to be tracked. However, they may just want to rethink the name of the app if they want wider respectability.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

South AfriCAM

South AfriCAM enables users to add branded stickers and frames from popular lifestyle magazine titles to their posts, including Huisgenoot, YOU, Drum, Move!, TRUE LOVE, Women’s Health and Men’s Health. 

In the process, they can earn JETPoints for their social influence: through the app’s built-in JET8 social currency, users are rewarded for their engagement. For every in-app like, comment, and share, users earn JETPoints, which can be used to redeem products online or over the counter across more than 2 500 retail stores in South Africa. Users are additionally awarded JETPoints for cross-posting onto external social media networks.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

Click here to read about console quality graphics on a mobile phone, Virgin Money payments made easier, and an app that redesigns the keyboard.

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Drones to drive
Western Cape agritech

Aerobotics is set to change how farmers treat their crops by using drones and machine learning, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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The Western Cape is poised to be a hotbed of innovation in the agritech sector, with drone piloting set to playing a major role in in the tech start-up scene.

This is the view of Tim Willis, chief operating officer of pioneering drone company Aerobotics, a Cape Town drone company recognised as a world leader in agritech.

“Drone piloting is a key skill that feeds into the value chain of the budding 4th Industrial Revolution,” said Willis. “Cape Town and the Western Cape is uniquely positioned to be the melting pot for innovation in the agritech sector, as a leading agricultural exporter and a hub for creative tech start-ups.”

He was speaking at AeroCon, a drone expo organised by Aerobotics and held in Johannesburg this week aimed at providing opportunities for drone pilots to apply their skills in South Africa, and to show how drones are being used to collect data on crops. 

The event was supported by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), Wesgro, PROMMAC, MicaSense, and Rectron, among other

“We’re starting to sign up farmers across the country,” said Willis. “It’s exciting because farmers are starting to use drone technology on their farms. When a farmer wants a drone flown, they want it flown [now] so it’s important for us to capture that data as quickly as possible to show that drones are fast and effective.”

According to aerobotics, drone technology can help farmers reduce pesticide use on their crops by up to 30%. The result is environmentally friendly farming, reducing stressed crops and a healthier harvest. 

“We use aerial imagery from drones to recreate a 3D model of every single tree on a farmer’s orchard,” said Willis. “We’ve done this for millions of trees and it starts to give the farmers metrics of what they’re doing. We provide them with the health of the trees, the height, the volume, the canopy area, which enable the farms to make decisions on what to do next.”

Click here to read more about AeroCon and what it offers to those wanting to get into the drone industry.

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