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7 Ways To Protect Your Digital Life

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Protect your digital life

It feels like every day we wake up to the launch of new smartphones, laptops or “smart” gadgets that connect us to the Internet. The use of such items has become so common that even kids know how to handle an iPad but not everyone is aware that all the data they hold digitally can be accessed.

Try and recall the number of public figures who’ve had their information – be it photos or videos – leaked in the last ten years. As a matter of fact, it has become so easy to leak personal information in the 21st century that the FBI Director had to cover the webcam of his personal laptop using a tape stating that it was the most crucial security step that everyone should adopt. And he is not the only one. Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, fears for the same.

Moreover, how many times do we use laptops at work, home or cyber cafes and forget to log out of our most crucial applications because we were in a rush? Or share passwords with friends and colleagues who never log us out? In fact, when Cisco conducted a research to understand how employees put their company’s data at risk, it was discovered that 18 percent of employees share their passwords. The research was done on 2000 correspondents with half being IT professionals and the other half regular employees in ten countries. Such revelation shows that most of our digital life is consumed on office devices and personal laptops.

So, what can we do to protect our digital lives from attackers who try to access our information without our authorization?

Use Secure Passwords

Gone are the days when your child’s name or pet’s name would be used to create passwords for your email, social media or any other device you need to log into.

Most of the applications we access require us to have passwords. Having a secure password is the first step that you can take in ensuring that your data is secure. Email passwords are the weakest.

Ensure your password comprises of twelve or more characters. Make use of letters, numbers and special characters and ensure that you change your password every so often. 90 or 180 days is ideal. Also, storing your password on your computer or printing them out is never a safe idea. Instead, you can use password managers such as LastPass, KeePass or 1Password for increased security.

Encryption is your Friend

SignalYou will have likely started a chat on WhatsApp and seen the message saying, ‘messages to this chat and calls are now secured with end-to-end encryption.’ However, WhatsApp’s encryption technology is far from impenetrable and the fact that it is owned by Facebook, which regularly shares your personal information with third-parties for marketing purposes does not bestow a lot of faith into the privacy of this messaging app.

Instead, you should consider using Signal. Signal is the most secure app for encrypting chats, text messages, and call. Signal can also be used on both Android and iPhones and is the encrypted messaging app that Edward Snowden recommends.

If your data is encrypted and attackers gain access to it, they won’t be able to understand anything without getting a key. Your data thus stays safe and secure when using Signal.

Be on the look for keyloggers

If your device is compromised, no amount of encryption will save you. Malware used by keyloggers are one of the biggest threats to your digital life.

According to Cybersecurity firm McAfee: “A keylogger (short for keystroke logger) is software that tracks or logs the keys struck on your keyboard, typically in a covert manner so that you don’t know that your actions are being monitored. This is usually done with malicious intent to collect your account information, credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, and other private data.”

It’s therefore important to run regular anti-virus updates to ensure that all malware viruses and attack attempts are thwarted. This means that your anti-virus needs to be up to date to perform to its maximum and guarantee you the protection needed.

Unfamiliar links, files, and websites

Every day, we receive multiple email messages and links shared through Messenger or WhatsApp. Some of these links pose a great threat to your device.

In June 2017, there was a global ransomware attack that hit 64 countries affecting hundreds of businesses. The malware was sent in form of files and when downloaded ended up encrypting the data in laptops. Many machines were affected and they required owners to purchase a key to get back their data. British advertising company WPP and pharmaceutical company Merck were some of the companies hit by the malware.

As such, it is important not to download any files or use websites or links that you are unfamiliar with. Ensure that you regularly update your operating software and install an anti-virus software, especially if you are using Windows.

Back up your data

Although encrypting your information is a good move, it is not enough. Hackers are always devising malware that can unencrypt almost everything. Data breaches can, therefore, be quite costly.

In addition to encrypting your data, ensure that you back up your data either to an external hard drive or on the cloud. In the event that you lose it or something happens to it, you will be able to recover your data without a sweat. Moreover, some online backup services like CrashPlan, not only back up your data but also encrypt it.

Besides helping protect your documents, data, and photos from technical malfunctions, backups also help you get back on your feet if you fall victim to a ransomware attack or data loss of any other kind.

Two-factor authentication for email accounts

Using two-factor authentication for your email helps give a second layer of protection to your emails. This means that if anyone tries accessing your email accounts from any new device they will need to undergo a second security step: a code that is sent as a text message to your phone.

Two-factor authentication can also be used for other social media accounts. However, your email is the most important one as most apps or payment sites use your email for password recovery. Hackers can easily retrieve this information if they get access to your email account.

Use HTTPs browser plug-in

Ever noticed that when browsing through various sites, some have the https and others don’t? You might think that it’s not important but it definitely is.

Developed by the Electronic Frontier Organization, the https plug-in ensures that you are using websites in a secure way. This means that your connection to various sites is encrypted and you are more protected from cyber attackers.

It is also important to ensure that the Wi-Fi network you are on is secured. Most public networks and private networks lack security keys which help protect users. Hence, using a VPN surfing in a public network is also strongly recommended.

Why Protecting Your Digital Life Matters

It is no secret that intelligence agencies such as the NSA or the GCHQ collect data on a global scale. We have learned that from the Edward Snowden leaks in 2013. In other words, any data you put online can be viewed by someone else who may or may not have mal-intentions. While governments’ mass surveillance programs are claimed exist to fight terrorism, they have really been created to spy on anyone and everyone to gain a political and/or economic advantage for their governments if possible.

Now, if you feel like you are “too small” to matter and there would be no point going through your personal data then you should still strongly consider protecting yourself online as the Internet is full of hackers who have mal-intentions. Cybercriminals may steal your personal information to sell it on the dark web for a profit or to use it to extract money from your bank or PayPal accounts.

If you are a holder of cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin, then you definitely need to protect your digital life as there is a chance that hackers may target you to steal your bitcoins. This, unfortunately, is much more common than people think and is why we feel it is important to highlight cybersecurity measures to our readers.

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Golix Plans to Launch ICO but Zimbabwean Regulator Rings Alarm Bells

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Golix ICO

The Securities Exchange Commission of Zimbabwe (SecZim) has warned investors against investing money in unregulated exchanges and securities following plans by Golix to issue a multi-million dollar initial coin offering (ICO). According to sources, the Harare-based cryptocurrency exchange is seeking to raise a minimum of $10 million. The company would be the first bitcoin startup in Zimbabwe to use this innovative way to raise funds.

The ICO Boom

An initial coin offering (ICO) is a revolutionary way to raise the capital needed for new cryptocurrency projects by issuing a percentage of the initial coins supply among early-stage investors. Similar to investing in a company’s stock, the value of the new coin linked to the digital currency project has the potential to gain in value as the project performs well. Once successfully launched, the new coins or tokens can be traded on cryptocurrency exchanges.

Globally, ICOs have appealed to blockchain companies as the next big thing in corporate fundraising and speculative investing. In 2017 alone, over $4 billion dollars were raised through this new form of fundraising.

However, ICOs have faced hurdles in the form of financial regulators, central banks, and governments which are concerned about the disruptive nature of cryptocurrency technologies and their potential for illegal uses. Last year, both China and South Korea banned ICOs.

ICO to Fund Regional Expansion Amidst Regulatory Pressure

Golix, which traded over $1 million worth of bitcoin last month, is looking to launch its ICO by the end of March, or latest in the second quarter, according to sources. The company which recently enabled Ether and Bitcoin Gold trading on its digital currency exchange intends to raise money to fund its entry into other African markets.

However, Securities Exchange Commission of Zimbabwe (SecZim) CEO, Tafadzwa Chinamo cautioned the public against dealing with unregulated exchanges and securities as there is no legal recourse in case of mishaps.

“Investing in cryptocurrencies in Zimbabwe is a personal decision. The SecZim advises against investing in securities that are not regulated for a few obvious reasons. Investment in cryptos in Zimbabwe is not protected by any law in any way,” Chinamo stated.

According to Chinamo, unlike IPOs which are governed by strict rules that foster transparency and disclosure and ensure investors are not misled by fraudulent persons who float worthless securities, ICOs usually operate in a legal grey area, though this is largely in part due to the lack of cryptocurrency regulation in Zimbabwe.

Locally, companies launched IPOs are required to submit registration statements, financial statements dating back five years, and are also required to undergo valuation by independent financial advisors to determine the fairness of the quoted IPO share price. These disclosures are subject to review for compliance by the market regulator.

ICOs, on the other hand, operate on the fringes with little or no regulatory oversight. Usually, startups launching ICOs will release a technical whitepaper explaining their project and will market their token sale in the hope that prospective investors will buy into the project.

Having said that, many Zimbabweans may choose to ignore the warnings as the cryptocurrency mania takes root in the country. A few months ago the high demand for bitcoin on the local exchange drove the price to almost double of where it was trading at on international exchanges. The demand was buoyed by a debilitating liquidity crunch and acute cash shortage in the country that has affected individuals and businesses who want to engage in commerce and international trade. Hence, cryptocurrencies like bitcoin remain popular among Zimbabweans as an alternative currency and as an investment, which could, in turn, help Golix’s ICO funding ambitions.

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How to Buy Bitcoin in Nigeria

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buy bitcoin in nigeria

Nigeria is home to one of Africa’s leading bitcoin economies and has emerged as one of the most active digital currency trading hubs on the continent. In Nigeria, you can find bitcoin startups, digital currency exchanges, meetups, conferences, and a continuously rising demand for bitcoin.

Unlike in many African countries, where bitcoin trading is often limited to Whatsapp groups and social media networks, Nigeria has a multitude of exchanges where locals can buy bitcoin with nairas.

In this article, you will discover the most active and most secure digital currency exchanges you can use to buy bitcoin in Nigeria.

NairaEx

NairaExNairaEx is one of the most reliable and longest standing bitcoin exchanges in Nigeria. The exchange was founded in 2015 and is simple and easy to navigate with an inbuilt real-time exchange rate of bitcoin to naira.

Buying bitcoin on NairaEx is very simple. All you have to do is sign up to NairaEx, get verified by uploading a valid identity card, deposit money using a bank transfer or PerfectMoney, and proceed to place a buy order. Upon confirmation of your order, the transaction will be initiated and once it has been completed your account will be funded with the bitcoin you just bought.  

ICE3X

ice3xThe South African digital currency exchange ICE3X recently opened its doors in Nigeria giving Nigerians an opportunity to buy bitcoin, litecoin, and ether using nairas through the use of the VoguePay payment processor.

To buy bitcoin from ICE3X, you will need to first create an account on ICE3X and fill out the form with your personal details. Once signed up, you will receive an email to verify your account. To fund your ICE3X account with your nairas, you will need to login to your newly created ice3X account, proceed to the DEPOSIT/WITHDRAW tab in the menu bar to make a deposit using your newly created VoguePay wallet (you can get more info here on how to set up a VoguePay wallet).

After successfully funding your account, you can proceed to place a buy order following these simple steps:

  1. To buy bitcoin, click on the naira balance in the deposit/withdraw section of your ICE3X account.
  2. Click on the trading tab in the blue menu at the top and click on the bitcoin tab.
  3. Enter how many bitcoins or fraction of bitcoin you wish to buy.
  4. Enter your buying price (the current bitcoin rate sale price is on the exchange by default, but you can enter any price you want).
  5. Your total order slip including your commission will then be shown.
  6. Review your transaction and click on the buy tab underneath to execute your order.

Remitano

RemitanoRemitano is a peer-to-peer exchange that has recently entered the African market. The platform is experiencing rapid growth in Nigeria due to its fast, safe and reliable nature.

On Remitano, users can easily buy or sell bitcoin using a range of different payment methods. As a way of protecting both the buyer and seller, Remitano offers an escrow service. This is where the seller transfers the amount of bitcoin the buyer wants to a locked Remitano account. The buyer then sends the payment to the seller with no fear of not receiving the paid for bitcoin. Similar to LocalBitcoins.com, Remitano also displays its list of sellers based on their transaction history.

In order for you to buy bitcoin, you have to create an account on Remitano.com and then proceed to the homepage and click on the buy button. After keying in your desired volume and bitcoin address, a list of top sellers will be listed below depending on the rating. You will then click on any seller you wish and proceed to make payment. After successfully making your payment, Remitano will then release the funds to the seller and you receive your bitcoin. 

LocalBitcoins

Convert Bitcoin Into Local CurrencyLocalBitcoins.com is a global peer-to-peer bitcoin trading platform. It is a marketplace that helps connect buyers or sellers from different places around the world.

The platform allows users to create buy or sell advertisement with the prices they want to trade at. The exchange platform rates sellers based on their past transactions. As a way of protecting both parties, LocalBitcoins acts as an escrow and has a customer support team ready to help in case of any issues that may arise during a transaction. 

To buy bitcoin on LocalBitcoins exchange, you need to create an account on the platform, verify your identity, click on any seller on the homepage that is willing to sell you bitcoin at a price you feel comfortable with and a payment method that works for you. 

After clicking on the ‘buy’ button, you will be given details of the transaction including the seller’s terms and conditions. You can choose whether or not to proceed with the particular buyer depending on how comfortable you are with these terms.

To execute a trade, type in the blue box how much bitcoin you want in naira and also add a message to the seller after which you click on the ‘send trade request’ button. Once the payment has been made, click on the ‘I have paid’ button and you will receive your bitcoin on your LocalBitcoins wallet within minutes.

Paxful

PaxfulPaxful is a peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace that has gained substantial popularity in Nigeria.

To buy bitcoin on paxful.com, first, you need to click on the ‘buy bitcoin’ option in the top menu bar. Then you enter the naira amount of bitcoin you intend to purchase and select the payment method you would like to use.

After selecting a way to pay, you click on the ‘search’ button to get a list of sellers who are willing to sell you the amount of bitcoin you requested and are also inclined to your payment method.

Just like on LocalBitcoins, the reputations of sellers are scored and it is highly advisable that you select buyers with high reputation to deal with. You then select a seller and begin your purchase order.The trade details will then pop-up on the left-side of the screen and a chat box on the right side of the screen where you can chat with the seller so you can both track the stages of transaction execution.

Once the trade is completed you will receive your bitcoin on your Paxful wallet.

Luno

LunoLuno, an online bitcoin exchange and wallet provider, is one of the most widely used bitcoin exchange platforms in Nigeria. Luno offers a free bitcoin wallet that comes with an inbuilt buy and sell feature that enables customers to buy or sell bitcoin directly from within their Luno wallet. It is designed in such a way that newcomers to bitcoin can easily use the wallet.

To buy bitcoin from Luno, you need to first and foremost;

  • Create an account by signing up at Luno.com
  • Verify your identity by uploading a valid identity card
  • Proceed to deposit money to your account using any of the various payment options available.

Buying bitcoin from Luno comes in two ways;

  1. Instant buy or sell (recommended for beginners), which allows users to buy or sell bitcoin either from the Luno wallet or from the website.
  2. Exchange orders (for advanced or experienced users), which is a little bit more technical as it involves placing an order on the exchange at a specific price and waiting for it to get matched.

Bitkoin.Africa

Bitkoin.Africa is a new Nigeria-based peer-to-peer exchange that allows Nigerian bitcoin users to buy and sell bitcoin from and to one another in a similar manner as on LocalBitcoins or Paxful.

The new exchange was launched in October 2017 and has since seen substantial user uptake in Nigeria.

Naira4Dollar

The exchange platform is one of the oldest e-currency platforms in the country with several shop outlets across the country. If you are looking for a place to buy bitcoin offline, then Naira4Dollar is that place. To know any of their offline shops closer to you visit Naira4Dollar.com.

However, you can also make use of their service online where you can purchase bitcoin using various payment methods.

NGExchanger

Port Harcout-based NGExchanger is another e-currency exchange that is well known in Nigeria and specialises in the buying and selling of bitcoin.

To buy bitcoin from the platform, you will need to create an account and get the account verified by uploading a valid ID card. However, you can still buy bitcoin without having a verified account. In such instances, you will need to have a funding limit of $1000 per day with the minimum buying amount being $10. Follow these simple steps to buy bitcoin on NGExchanger:

  1. After registration, login to your account and click on buy
  2. Select the e-currency account type you want to buy (in this case click on bitcoin)
  3. Input the desired volume of bitcoin you want to buy in US Dollars
  4. Enter your bitcoin wallet address
  5. After clicking on the proceed button, a payment invoice will be generated with a transaction number. Make payment to the bank details of NGExchanger that will be displayed and include the transaction number in your payment invoice.
  6. After successful payment, click on confirm to record and save the transaction. Once the payment is received, your bitcoin address will be funded and a message sent to your email confirming that.

There are also other local e-money exchange platforms that allow you to buy bitcoin such as Instant Gold Nigeria, Nigeria Gold Exchange and CryptoMart.

However, when it comes to buying bitcoin, it is advisable to use well-known established exchanges such as Paxful, LocalBitcoins, NairaEx, ICE3X, and Luno as they offer the most secure buying options.

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Fake Bitcoin Smartphone Apps Have Been Downloaded Over 10,000 Times

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Fake Bitcoin Smartphone Apps

Cryptocurrency users need to be aware of some of the dangers they face when using the Internet, and even tech-savvy bitcoin enthusiasts are not immune from harmful actions such as social engineering, phishing, and trojans. A common assumption is that apps downloaded from Google and Apple’s app stores, have been vetted by the service providers and are safe. However, nothing can be further from the truth as thousands of cryptocurrency users have come to realise.

The Case of the Fake ‘Poloniex’ App

While both Android and iOS platforms have had their share of unscrupulous developers, users on Google Play store are the most affected by fraudulent apps. An example of a fake Android app which has been downloaded by thousands of users is called Poloniex. Bearing the same name as the popular digital currency exchange it claims to be the official Poloniex app. No doubt users who only take a perfunctory glance before pressing ‘Download’ will be convinced by the familiar logo and screenshots from the real company.

However, a close examination will reveal the low user ratings of one star received from 162 user reviews. In addition, the numerous typos in the app description together with disgruntled comments from users highlighting theft of personal data and bitcoins should raise a red flag.

Surprisingly, the Poloniex exchange lacks an official mobile app and this explains why scammers have taken advantage of the void with their fake version of the app. Poloniex has done little to distance itself from third-party apps choosing to remain silent on the matter since 2016. Currently, there are five different imitations of Poloniex on Google Play alone, according to Bitcoin.com.

Fraudulent Apps a Real Problem for Internet Users

Scammy apps are not only isolated to the cryptocurrency space, it is estimated over a million people downloaded a fake version of Whatsapp from Google Play store.

Scams are evolving with new tricks being used to lure vulnerable targets; with reports of fake customer care telephone calls from digital currency exchanges Coinbase and Kraken. These hoaxes, have the potential to affect Africans using the open web to obtain and trade cryptocurrencies.

With bitcoin adoption in Africa still in its infancy stages, many users may find it hard to identify fake cryptocurrency apps. Already, the continent has had its share of digital currency scams in the form of bitcoin HYIPS and MLM schemes so it is highly advisable to take caution when downloading cryptocurrency apps to ensure they are real.

To avoid issues of fake bitcoin smartphone apps in their entirety, the safest bet would be to do all your bitcoin trading on your computer and use your phone for price updates and cryptocurrency news.

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