How to keep safe while working and conducting life online

Brian Joss – In the unprecedented fight against the COVID-19 virus, reliance on digital technology to support physical social distancing has fast tracked most businesses, governments, educational institutions and individual reliance on the digital domain.

Conducting most parts of our lives online has become the new norm.

The high dependency on digital platforms has brought to light the importance of data protection and cyber security. Being digitally savvy and acutely aware of cyber security is vital towards preventing and protecting oneself from cyber-attacks, hacking and phishing (an email masquerading as a highly reputable company, asking someone to divulge personal information, such as banking details and passwords). The best way to arm oneself is to remain well informed and sensitised. WesBank has outlined some useful guidelines which one could apply, to ensure safe online engagement.

Ensure that you have a strong password. Strong passwords have at least 8 characters and include a combination of uppercase and lowercase, letters and numbers and special characters e.g. !@#$& Create unique passwords for each account you have. Passwords can easily be forgotten, however try not to use the same password across various platforms.

Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) where available. MFA ensures that all available tools will protect your account and minimise the risk of hacking.

Be certain that the most current and updated versions of software and applications are on your devices (laptop, smartphones and tablet).

If you’re working from home make sure that you are operating with your work email address and password when connecting to virtual meeting sites such as Microsoft Teams.

Don’t click on links or open attachments from people you don’t know.

Take note of whether your Wi-Fi connection is encrypted (meaning that it has a strong password). Change your home Wi-Fi router password from the default password when first connecting to your Wi-Fi. Avoid over sharing your screen while on a call. Make sure when you are sharing your screen that all your other tabs which are not relevant to the call are closed.

When you’re shopping online be sure to have conducted sufficient research about a retailer and their credibility, especially those with online offerings. Also read their reviews before commencing with your shopping.

Familiarise yourself with the return policy and be sure to understand your rights as a consumer particularly when it comes to online shopping.

Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi when shopping online. Keep in mind that your personal data connection is a lot more secure.

Alternative payment methods such as eBucks and PayPal reduce the risk of anyone getting a hold of your banking details.

Be aware of online scams, particularly relating to COVID-19 donations.

“Having our physical freedom limited as a means of curbing the spread of the Coronavirus, has resulted in us being extremely dependent on digital platforms. We urge consumers to be vigilant while making use of various online platforms for personal and professional reasons. Improving you cyber awareness will lead overall, to better cyber security efforts,” says Lebogang Gaoaketse, WesBank’s head of marketing and communication.

CAPTION:  The new norm:  be aware of cyber security.  Picture: Motorpress

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