ONLINE SECURITY

*David Mugo*

Online security is the mix of rules that are followed, actions that are taken and processes that happen to make sure that online user data and privacy aren’t compromised by cyber-criminals. Basically this is the safety of an online user as they are browsing the internet. During this period that majority of the Kenyans are working from home there are very high possibilities of online threats. Furthermore, internet usage is at its peak and its becoming more popular and easier to access thus the more the online threats increases. Today you either learn how to stay safe online, or eventually end up losing your money in a cyber attack or become the victim of identity theft.

Here are some of the guidelines you can follow so as to stay safe on the internet.

  1. Make sure your software are up to date.

Maybe you have been working from office for a very long time and have not updated your home laptop or home desktop. My guess is that they are still using windows 7 version which has been found to have vulnerabilities thus the need to use windows 10 version. This makes your work and personal data very vulnerable to cyber-criminals thus you are easily prone to hacking than someone who is using windows 10 version.

  1. Avoid interacting with spam and phishing emails

At this very time majority of Kenyans are working from home the more they are vulnerable to phishing and spamming. Though normally are spam is easily recognized by the emails phishing is not. Spamming is the mass distribution of unsolicited messages on the internet.

Phishing – This happens when you receive a mail from someone who seems to be a legitimate person or organization and tricking you to share your personal info like credit card numbers, social security number or your logins to your accounts. The basic prevention of this is to first confirm from the legitimate persons or organizations by calling them since it does not cost you much to confirm other than suffer from an online attack.

  1. Avoid clicking unfamiliar links

Clicking on unfamiliar links may lead you to insecure websites where your communication is not secure or encrypted. This makes you susceptible to cyber attacks. Another characteristic of an unfamiliar link that may be insecure is shortened links.

  1. When browsing one should make sure they are using HTTPS and not HTTP.

HTTP websites are not secure and communication on such websites is not encrypted thus your data such as your emails can be easily accessed by cyber criminals who sell the info at the dark web at a very costly prices.

On HTTPS websites however, communication is secure and encrypted thus it is not easy for cyber criminals to steal your data. One can know when a website is secure by checking the green padlock on the search bar where the URL is.

  1. Use of encrypted messaging apps and emails  

At this crucial time that Kenyans are working from home information sharing is very common thus it is advisable to use sites and apps that have their communication encrypted and this makes sure and less prone to eavesdropping. Applications such as WhatsApp and Gmail have their communication encrypted.

  1. Use of VPNs and script blockers 

A virtual private network hides your IP Address from your ISP, cyber criminals and government surveillance agencies. The use of a VPN makes sure that online communication is fully encrypted and surveillance proof however digital footprints are untraceable to a certain extent thus one should not use a VPN to commit a cyber crime. 

Script blockers are browsers extensions that you can use to make sure that the websites you access do not run shady java scripts or flash scripts that compromise your internet safety. For recommendations one is supposed to use Umatrix together with UblockOrigin the two work best when they are together.

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  1. Use of strong passwords 

Use of strong and distinct passwords for each of your accounts and also use of dedicated recovery emails to save your passwords. A good example is password manager in Google. A password should be composed of a combination of small letters, capital letters, symbols, numbers, and spaces. Passwords should always be memorable as possible so as to increase the ability to remember such passwords.   

Online security is a practice that has to be has to be adhered to by all online users so as to reduce the rising cases of cybercrimes as well as to make the internet a safer place for all its users. 

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