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How SA consumers undermine own online security

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A recent survey has shown that 42% of South African Internet users have shared their passwords with somebody or have left them visible for people to see – demonstrating a severe lack of cyber-savviness and how easy it is for cybercriminals to take advantage.

Nearly half (42%) of Internet users in South Africa admit having shared their passwords with somebody or left them visible for people to see, according to the findings of Kaspersky Lab’s recent consumer surveys. This demonstrates a lack of cyber-savviness and could make it easy for cybercriminals to unlock and gain access into the online lives of consumers.

When asked about the importance of passwords, respondents were more likely to think strong passwords were necessary for the online services they valued most highly. The studies found that according to South African consumers the sites most in need of strong passwords were online banking (69%), email (51%) and social media sites (32%). The list of the top three most important applications was almost identical, at 68% for online banking, 49% for email and 21% for social media sites.

Consumers also believe that online shopping and payment applications require strong passwords, but don’t place the same value on these sites. Locally, just 16% considered online shopping to be a personally important service, although 24% felt it warranted a strong password. In addition, 34% agreed that online payment systems needed a strong password, with slightly fewer 25% regarding these services as personally valuable.

More worrying is the fact that although consumers agreed that online financial transactions require a strong password, over a quarter (29%) think there is no need to have additional protection for their personal credentials when using these services. They expect the brands they shop with to provide all the protection they need.

Putting their personal information at even greater risk, a third (33%) of Internet users locally also admit to freely sharing passwords with family members. 42% have both shared passwords and left them visible to others. One in ten (11%) share passwords with friends and a surprising 8% with colleagues. And, with over a third (38%) of consumers using only one email address for all of their needs, sharing that password with others could prove costly. Should it get into the wrong hands, this password could unlock all information stored on that email address.

“Consumers need to be more cyber-savvy about passwords. Once shared, it is very difficult to know exactly where your password will end up. Our research shows that there is a real disconnect between the understanding of why we need strong passwords and the action people take to keep them safe. No one would expect a friend or family member to knowingly divulge a password, but by sharing passwords, consumers are increasing the risk of them falling into the wrong hands. This could give cybercriminals easy access to personal and financial information and hacked accounts can be used to distribute malicious links and files, harming others. At worst, entire identities could be put at risk. Even the most complex password is weak if it’s visible to others, so keep it to yourself,” comments David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

To help users maintain the integrity of their passwords, Kaspersky Password Manager (a part of Kaspersky Total Security – multi-device) provides an extra layer of protection by securely storing all passwords and synchronising them across all devices. The product remembers and generates strong passwords and has auto-logging capabilities for safer access to valuable applications, accounts and websites.

You can check your own level of cyber-savviness here: https://blog.kaspersky.com/cyber-savvy-quiz/. To read more tips on how to protect yourself online, click here: https://blog.kaspersky.com/tag/cybersavvy.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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