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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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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.

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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:

  1. Download the Absa App
  2. Choose the account you would like to open
  3. Tell us who you are
  4. To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
  5. Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
  6. Tell us where you live
  7. Let us know what you do for a living and your income
  8. Click Apply.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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