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Follow these 5 rules to stay safe on Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi spots are convenient and save users a lot of money. However, they are also perfect for hackers to pick up your personal information. NordVPN offers these rules to safe online.

Free Wi-Fi at cafes, airports, restaurants and city streets is used by almost everyone who’s traveling – but how many people take an extra step to make sure their browsing is not only convenient, but also safe?

Last year, NordVPN (Virtual Private Network) released safety tips for public Wi-Fi, but the number of public Wi-Fi scams only seems to be increasing, showing that people still don’t treat their online security seriously. According to privatewifi.com study, 79% of respondents still don’t use a VPN when they go on public Wi-Fi. According to NordVPN’s recent survey,  almost 35% of respondents still didn’t know such obvious rules that, for example, it was dangerous to shop online on a public network.

Most common ways that a hacker can take advantage of an unprotected Wi-Fi spot:

1. Honeypot Wi-Fi. The most common threat is still a hacker positioning himself as a Wi-Fi hotspot – the so-called honeypot Wi-Fi. When that happens, a Wi-Fi user will be sending their information to a hacker instead to a legitimate Wi-Fi spot – and that could include credit card information, private emails, and any other sensitive information. This technique is very easy for hackers, as Wi-Fi spots rarely require authentication to establish a connection.

2. Wireless sniffers. Hackers can be using sniffers, a software designed to intercept and decode data when it is transmitted over a network. Wireless sniffers are specifically created for capturing data on wireless networks, but are normally used by IT specialists to monitor the health of a network and diagnose problems. When a sniffer falls into a hacker’s hands, it can be easily used to monitor and decode another person’s private data.

3. Shoulder surfing. When an Internet user finds themselves in a crowded coffee shop or an airport, there might be data thieves lurking around, who will watch over a shoulder to memorize passwords or credit card information that one enters into their device. Just as it’s important to be careful when entering a PIN number into an ATM machine, it’s important to make sure no one is looking over a shoulder when going online at a public Wi-Fi spot.

How can an Internet user protect themselves when they go online at a public hotspot?

Actually, it’s really simple – just a few easy rules need to be followed – and they will be safe on any public network.

1. Use a VPN. The best and most effective way for any traveler to protect their data is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN service encrypts all the traffic flow between the Internet and a device thus hiding user’s IP address. Recently, VPNs have become a mainstream tool and quite a few have been remodeled to be very user-friendly. For example, with NordVPN users only have to turn to ON button, and they will be connected. The app (for Windows, Android, Mac or iOS) will then choose the fastest server to connect to. It’s also important to be aware of free VPNs that typically rely on third party advertisers to cover the costs. In addition to protecting one’s online activities, a VPN will also help access banned sites in a different country (such as Facebook in Vietnam or Wikipedia in Turkey).

2. Use a firewall. It’s important to make sure firewall is turned on before going online, especially on a public Wi-Fi spot.

3. Disallow automatic wireless network connection. Make sure automatic wireless connection are not turned on, and Wi-Fi is turned off when it’s not being used – this will prevent hackers from automatically connecting to one’s device.

4. Sharing settings should NOT be Public. To prevent anyone from finding and accessing one’s device, it’s important to make sure System’s Settings are not set to Public sharing.

5. Be vigilant. It’s always important to know who’s around to avoid shoulder surfing or any other suspicious activities.

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Cisco gives pre-owned tech a Refresh

In a market of constant upgrades, Cisco Refresh aims to keep quality product away from landfills, writes BRYAN TURNER.

When one gets a new smartphone upgrade, the old device may be used as a backup or can be used by someone else. In business environments, equipment upgrades may not be conducive to keeping old equipment around, which may send older, working equipment to landfills.

This is where Cisco’s Refresh initiative comes in. At Cisco Connect in Sun City this week, Ehrika Gladden, VP and general manager of Cisco Refresh, lifted the lid on a little-known aspect of the company’s strategy. 

“Refresh is Cisco’s global pre-owned equipment business unit,” said Gladden. “It is certified to meet the quality and engineering standards of Cisco. It is licensed for software and it’s also inclusive of a services warranty.

“Our responsibility in 80 countries around the world is tied to both the recovery of assets and the ability to leverage those assets at a lower price point. This ensures our sustainability and proper usage of the Earth’s resources while providing access to small and medium businesses. The products are typically in the range of 20-40% cheaper. The products represent the entire portfolio for Cisco in some part, the majority of that product set is 2+ years in terms of generation.”

Cisco’s Circular Economy initiative ensures a sustainable loop through businesses willing to pay a premium for the latest, cutting-edge solutions, while Cisco markets older, working equipment for resale to those who don’t require the latest solutions. This ensures far less new components need to be used in a product range.

“We are leveraging the model of remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling, and reusing,” said Gladden. “Depending on the product set, there is a certain set of product yield that we expect. They vary from product to product, but we do have a percentage that doesn’t make it through.

“Those are always reused, meaning we will look at those products and decide to use them completely differently, leveraging the components, remanufacturing back into the overall build process. If that can’t be done, we will go into a recycle process where we melt those products down to reuse them.”

Repairing and refurbishing older products isn’t just that. Cisco is creating repair centres that are owned by third-parties to uplift local ownership.

“The repair centres, as a global manufacturer, is Cisco’s entree into local ownership,” said Gladden. “I want to be precise about what I mean by local ownership. It’s critical for us to have a localised presence, but doing that through ownership. When you look at inclusive economies, those that are participative, to be sustainable – not in the product set, but generationally.

“The ability as a global manufacturer through a local ownership model  isto create a repair centre where a product can be returned, screened, tested, and repaired, leveraging the talent that the Networking Academy is creating.”

Cisco is working closely with local governments to understand where it operates and how to leverage the skills in the market.

Gladden said: “We are also super excited about the National Development Plan and African Union statements which with we align: eradication of poverty, job creation, ownership, healthcare, education, it all fits in the model. So we were very excited to have the opportunity to come to Africa first to announce this. Over the next twelve months, we want to establish our first repair centres, and in the next 3 to 5 years, build that vision into a reality.”

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Why Data Privacy has become a Pipe Dream

If you’re active on WhatsApp, Facebook or any other social platform, you’re not as safe as you thought, writes
AARON THORNTON, MD of Dial a Nerd

As you begin to read this, let’s perform a quick experiment! How many active conversations are you engaged in – right now – on WhatsApp? When was the last time you shared a picture or video on Instagram? Is Facebook currently open and active on one of your devices? And how many internet- connected devices are you using at this moment? Chances are, you have multiple devices running multiple applications most of the time. So what’s the problem, you ask? Since when did checking in with a high school buddy in Australia via Facebook become a dangerous act?  

In reply, we say, read on if you can stomach it!  

Nation-State Hacking & You  

It might seem like a laughably long shot to say that you are a key player in the increasingly sinister and sophisticated world of nation-state hacking. Well, you are. Given that individuals, businesses and governments are now constantly connected, round the clock, consumers and businesses have become fair game in cyber espionage. And as we create and share more and more data, both the value and accessibility of that data increases. According to a report by McAfee, IP theft now accounts for more than 25% of the estimated $600 billion cost of cybercrime to the world economy.    

With data having become the ‘new gold’, nation states are naturally pouring investment and key resources into building advanced cyber warfare tools. Indeed, entire divisions of armed forces as well as the upper echelons of corporate leadership are devising ways to harness data to gain economic, political and social power. At the highest level, tools and platforms are being developed with the specific aim of perpetrating cyber espionage and data theft. No surprise then, that the consumer and business environments are rife with increasingly advanced malware, ransomware and many other malicious hacking tools and methods.  

Still not convinced? Yes, we can smell the scepticism from here! So let’s take a moment to see how this has already played out, beneath our noses.  

Remember the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal of early 2018? For many, this was a watershed moment in the emerging war for consumer data – and the ensuing tensions between privacy, power and profit. Need a refresh? Well, in 2018, Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign. In essence, the data was harvested without user consent and used for political purposes.  

Another chilling but less direct example can be found in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. According to Politico, Russia launched a massive social media campaign to ‘sow discord’ leading up to the elections. The website reported that as early as 2014, an infamous Russian “troll farm” known as the Internet Research Agency – a company linked to Russian president Putin – developed a strategy using fraudulent bank accounts and other fake identity documents to “spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” 

When referring to the Russian hacks and their impact on election results, one U.S. Representative sagely noted: “They didn’t just steal data; they weaponized it.” 

Ignorance is not bliss 

Okay, so data is being ‘weaponized’, and ordinary people and businesses are being caught in the crosshairs of cyber warfare. A little bit frightening, but the good news is that savvy individuals like you can take steps to protect personal data and actively combat the creeping influence of juggernauts such as Facebook and Google.  

To begin with, awareness is key. As you engage with various platforms and applications at work and at home, take time to understand how your data is being used and what the terms of use are. Is your data being accessed and sold to advertisers? Have you consented to this? In addition to scrutinizing your consent, also pay close attention to how much data you share online – and the nature of the details you are divulging. Always keep in mind that hackers are employing smart social engineering tactics and using the details of your private life (birthdays, holidays, pet’s names, etc) to trick you into opening infected emails and clicking on malware. Whenever you are online, you are a target – and vigilance at all times is critical. Beyond that, it goes without saying that you must commit to following basic security protocols with your devices. So always keep software up to date and keep your data backed up so that you can reboot or wipe a device if needed.   

Now that we’ve left you sufficiently spooked, you can get back to those demanding WhatsApp/Facebook/Instagram notifications (same company, by the way)…albeit, we hope, with a slightly altered [cyber] worldview!  

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