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Educate yourself before logging on

With reduced pricing and Internet connectivity becoming more readily available, South Africa is seeing more and more users getting connected every day. However, many of these users have not been educated as to the dangers that lurk in cyberspace, nor how to properly protect themselves from these dangers.

Over the past two years, South African Internet users have seen reduced prices for bandwidth from Internet service providers (ISPs) across the board. This is largely thanks to the increased ‚ and cheaper ‚ bandwidth resulting from the landing of the Seacom cable, as well as infrastructural investments on the part of many of the ISPs.

While this has resulted in ever-increasing numbers of connected computer users, many have never been adequately informed about the threats that abound in the online environment. According to CEO of specialist distributor Phoenix Software, Simon Campbell-Young, it is essential that this new generation of Internet users be educated about internet threats.

‚While spam is a nuisance, it poses a very real danger. Fraud remains dominant on the agenda for all spam, malware, botnets and phishing intrusions across the Internet, and if you are not aware of the various ways unscrupulous people can access your personal details, you are a sitting duck. Chat rooms and predatory threats within the social media environment also pose as an extremely dangerous threat,‚ he says.

He believes that continuous repetition of the message of the risks, dangers and reality of the threats will impose how real threats are and affect us in our everyday ‚connected‚ lifestyles. ‚The new generation of users need to be well aware that hackers are continuously changing their methodology.‚

So how do you educate a new generation of users about internet threats? Campbell-Young believes it is the responsibility of the security vendors to educating the user and make them aware of the various threats out there. However, he adds that ISPs and hardware platform vendors are also responsible. ‚I believe that a good foundation regarding awareness starts at schools with computing studies classes, where the younger generation can be made aware of the reality that threats are prevalent on the internet,‚ he says. ‚But everyone involved in the industry has to step up to make sure that these new users have as much information as possible on how to protect themselves.‚

‚Threats, in terms of viruses, corporate espionage, spyware and fraud are on the increase. The corporate world is effectively under siege. According to our research, confirmed by feedback from our various vendors, threats are constantly growing and constantly mutating. Corporate companies need to ensure strict policies around backups, intrusion prevention, software security and general housekeeping. This is also a serious agenda for the banking industry to address because the rise in mobile banking will compound threats significantly. Ultimately, this impacts on every business in today’s modern environment, so education and the subsequent protection of the growing number of Internet users in the country will benefit everyone.‚

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