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How to protect yourself against increased cyber threats

- WitsICT

With the onset of the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic, working and studying remotely have increased the risk of cybercrime.

This Cybercrime Survival Guide unpacks the potential cyber risks you may face and provide you with non-technical advice to protect yourself online. It offers valuable tips for cloud users, personal computers and mobile devices to ensure that your information is kept safe. [Download the Cybercrime Survival Guide.]

The Wits community should take note of these guidelines to protect themselves online, and observe the following:

Windows 7 and Windows 10

  1. Microsoft no longer supports Windows 7 (that includes security upgrades and updates); and it is vital that users upgrade to Windows 10.
  2. Windows updates need to be installed regularly. Microsoft releases patches every second Tuesday of the month.
  3. You must have Antivirus software installed on your devices, there are both free and paid versions. Make sure these have the latest pattern files and updates. 

Browsing the internet, purchasing online, checking email and using social media

  1. Think before you send an email, search or post. Keep personal information limited and professional.
  2. Practice safe browsing. Only browse and visit websites that are safe and that you trust the source. Do not browse unknown websites and be wary of the links that you click on.
  3. Be careful of what you download. Cyber criminals often trick users into downloading malware programs or apps that carry viruses or try to steal information. These programs are disguised as an app or can be anything from a popular game to traffic or weather reporting. Don't download apps that look suspicious or come from a site you do not trust. Verify that a website is legitimate.
  4. Choose strong passwords. Any password that is used needs to be complex. When entering the password on a site, make sure the website is using HTTPS.
  5. Make online purchases from secure sites only. When providing credit card or bank account information, make sure the website is using secure, encrypted connections, i.e. they use HTTPS.
  6. Be careful what you post online, especially on social media platforms. Think before you post. The Internet does not have a ‘delete key’. Comments, images, information stay online.
  7. Be careful who you meet and chat with online. People you meet online are not always who they claim to be. It's easy to set up fake social profiles and con users. Be cautious and sensible in online activity. 
  8. Clicking on links in emails: Do not click on links in emails. If you need to click on a link, verify it has been sent from someone you trust, and also verify that the link is hosted on a trusted server.
  9. Opening documents sent in emails: If an email contains a document and you need to open it, verify that the email was sent from someone you trust. Make sure your PDF reader and Office suite are up to date. Often cyber-attacks come via documents in emails using vulnerabilities in PDF readers and Office documents.
  10. Be mindful of public Wi-Fi networks. Limit the use of these networks to basic browsing only.