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Perils of Pokemon Go – and how to stay safe

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Pokemon Go may be a fun game, but it does come with a few digital security risks warns NordVPN. Here are a few tips on how to keep yourself safe online in general and while hunting down those virtual creatures.

Staying safe online is becoming an increasingly relevant issue. 30,000 websites are hacked per day, according to Sophos Labs, and there are millions of hacking attacks every day around the world. Even large and secure companies, such as Verizon, experience data breaches, so an everyday user without any cyber protection ­ such as VPN (Virtual Private Network) ­ is open to data theft every day.

For example, Pokémon Go, the wildly popular computer game is taking the world by storm. It¹s free, exciting, nostalgic and interactive.  Users can download it for free on Android and iOS devices. Pokémon Go uses a device¹s GPS to determine which Pokémon will appear in the game. However, Pokémon Go is also an illustration of the high security risks that every digital user experiences in the new age of online sharing.

First of all, Pokémon Go requires to login using Google credentials. When users sign in through an Apple device, they automatically give Niantic, the game developer, full access to their Google Drive. Niantic could technically use anyone¹s identity to send emails, share their information or photos. Secondly, since Pokémon Go is not available in every country, it¹s shared through file sharing websites, and can possibly infected with malware. One known variant of the shared version infects Android devices and allows hackers to access them. Hackers can then download user¹s data, steal their identity or banking information, send emails on their behalf and so on.

Every Internet user should be aware of some basic rules in order to stay safe online ­ whether they are shopping online, downloading a game or doing an online banking transaction. NordVPN has picked the main rules to follow. Here they are:

1. https

The first thing you should always see while doing any online transaction is whether the payment gateway has an https URL. The Œs¹ in the URL means that it is a secure protocol and your data is encrypted properly.

2. Stay away from public Wi-Fi

It cannot be stressed enough how dangerous it is to share your personal or financial information with any website or any person over the web while using a public Internet connection. Public Wi-Fi networks are common hunting grounds for attackers and data snoopers who try to access your personal information and use it for their benefit on your expense. Since public networks have negligible security, you should try and avoid using them while making online payments. There are several ways that public wi-fi can be exploited: https://nordvpn.com/blog/securing-public-wi-fi.

3. Be wary

Being vigilant can help you a lot in the task of shopping online, downloading software or doing any other transaction online securely. Whenever a website requests for more information than is usually required, like your Social Service number or any other kind of personal information, it usually spells fraud. You should always be cautious before giving your personal or financial details anywhere on the Internet.

4. Use a VPN

VPNs encrypt all the data you share across the Internet on any website. They are the best security mechanism you can employ to make sure the data you share over the Internet is safe from prying eyes and remains confidential. You can choose advanced VPNs like NordVPN, which offers great connection speeds, uses extra safe encryption protocols, has good global coverage and is quite reasonably priced.

5. Stronger Passwords

Perhaps the most basic requirement for any online account set up is using strong passwords. Weak passwords make it simple for hackers to break into your account and cause severe damage.

6. Be careful about P2P downloads. The recommendation is to stick to app stores as well as known third party providers, such as Amazon, when you download any apps from the Internet

We live in an exciting digital era, and everyone should be able to take full advantage of Internet without any fears. The methods listed above can help anyone execute any online transactions securely. If something looks out of the ordinary and the deal looks too good to be true, it¹s important to be very careful before clicking on suggested links.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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