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On Staying Safe Online

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Staying safe online and securing your information is as much your responsibility as it is your bank or telecommunications provider’s.

Cell C’s executive head of forensic services, Jacqueline Fick, and the executive head of Striata Document Solutions, Greg Gatherer, said users must take charge of their online safety.

“Your bank or provider may have insurance for certain problems, but do not assume they are able to protect you entirely,” said Fick.

“Owning a device such as a phone is great, but also a big responsibility. So be aware, be smart, and you can be safe.”

Gatherer said people must educate themselves about the apps institutions like banks recommend to keep private information secure.

Fick warned that crime often peaks over holiday seasons, mostly because people are in good spirits and let their guard down.

Many things we do over this period make it easy for criminals to strike, said Fick.

Gatherer and Fick provided several tips to keep safe, as detailed below:

Watch out for fakes

Be wary of any message claiming to be from your bank or SARS.

Do not click links in emails or other messages. If there is something you need to act on, contact the institution through the numbers on their website or a channel you’ve used before and trust.

Beware public Internet

Public Internet cafés or open Wi-Fi hotspots can be dangerous.

Avoid logging into services like banking in such places, as your personal information might be exposed.

If you wouldn’t do it in the real world, don’t do it online

If something is too good to be true, it probably is, and if you wouldn’t trust something offline then don’t trust it online.

Take care with personal information

Only provide personal details to trusted companies or contacts.

If you accidentally expose usernames, passwords, or sensitive information, change your passwords immediately.

Fick also warned against “checking in” with your location on social media services. Criminals looking for an open house can use this information.

“Make sure that you check your privacy settings so your posts do not land in the wrong hands,” said Fick.

Gatherer added:

  1. Don’t trust links and attachments in messages.
  2. Avoid attachments with dangerous file types. These include .exe, .msi, .bat, .com, .cmd, .hta, .scr, .pif, .reg, .js, .vbs, .wsf, .cpl, and .jar.
  3. Only open a document with macros if you were expecting it. Don’t ignore Office’s warnings.
  4. Keep your programs up to date, ensure auto updates are on for often-used software.

Source: Your online safety and data security is your personal responsibility