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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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The First African Art Collection Powered by NFTs is Here

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African Art
Photo credits: Kureng Dapel/Rich Allela

Picha Images – a digital media company powered by Artificial intelligence and Big Data – is launching the first crypto art non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in Africa. The upcoming auction will feature African art from the Kenyan-based Multiple Award-Winning Photographer and Filmmaker Rich Allela and will be held from April 26 to May 3, 2021.

The NFT auction and artwork will be hosted on OpenSea, one of the biggest non-fungible token digital marketplaces, founded in 2018.

Why is Picha Images Going Crypto?

Picha Images has a track record of being highly innovative and has been recognised as a disruptor in the Kenyan and African creative industries.

Covid Art Gallery

The Virtual Africa COVID exhibition held by Picha Images in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Create2030

The company embraces Artificial intelligence and utilises Big Data analytics to produce high-quality photo and video productions.

Furthermore, Picha Images develops products and services in Business to Business (B2B) photography; digitises hardcopy images; facilitates cloud storage of images for companies, and carries out videography. The company has in the past been credited with holding one-of-a-kind Augmented and Virtual Reality exhibitions, even during tough times. 

Pre-COVID exhibition

Bringing still images to life using Artificial Intelligence in Rich Allela’s exhibition “30 under 30”, held in 2019 (Pre-COVID)

As a company that values technological advancements, Picha Images’ approach of having NFTs for artists such as Rich Allela makes technological and financial sense. The company is currently placing the wellbeing of their creative artists first by exposing them to a way to secure their work, maintain the copyrights to their creations and earn royalties in perpetuity.

For a customer of Picha Images, purchasing these NFTs will mean that you will have hacker-resistant proof of ownership of a digital piece of art.

Why Rich Allela?

Afro-renaissance

Photo credits: Rich Allela

Rich Allela is a multidisciplinary artist whose work focuses on culture and heritage in Africa. He has an interest in documenting cultures that are at the threat of disappearing due to modernisation.

Allela’s works are famously described as “Afro-renaissance” because they herald the rebirth of the African culture through the creation of a new generation of art aimed at rewriting the African narrative.

These unique art pieces have won numerous awards including the Africa PicFair photo awards and Kenya Photo Awards and have been used by companies such as Canon Global to launch products such as new cameras. As an influential artist, Rich Allela’s story has been featured on CNN, BBC, and other news outlets around the world.

Speaking to BitcoinAfrica.io, Rich Allela said;

“For ages, artists have been getting a raw deal when it comes to secondary sales of their work. By launching the Rich Allela’s Afro-renaissance collection on NFT, Picha Images aims to empower artists to maintain the copyright of their work and earn from secondary sales. Through this auction, the public will place their bids where the highest bidder will walk away with a piece of digital art and send a message to the world on the value of art as an investment worth making.”

Would You Like to Participate in the NFT Auction?

The auction will go live on April 26 and can be accessed via https://opensea.io/accounts/Rich_Allela.

To learn more about Rich Allela’s works, visit his Instagram account @Richallela or reach out to Picha Images by visiting their website.

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How to Buy Tether (USDT): A Step-by-Step Guide for 2021

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how to buy tether

Tether is a stablecoin backed 1:1 by the US dollar. As a result, it does not experience the same volatility as other cryptocurrencies. In this guide, you will learn how to buy tether on Africa’s leading peer-to-peer exchange, Paxful.

How to Buy Tether (USDT)

To buy USDT, you will need a cryptocurrency wallet and an account with an exchange. Here are the steps you should take:

  • Download a mobile, desktop, or hardware crypto wallet to store the USDT you will purchase.
  • Next, create an account with an exchange or a P2P marketplace that supports Tether USD. For instance, you can create an account on  Paxful. If you already have an account, log in.
  • After registering an account, verify the required credentials. Paxful requires users to verify details like phone numbers, home addresses, email addresses, and ID numbers.

How to Buy Tether from a Peer-to-Peer Marketplace

Buy Tether on Paxful

If you created an account on Paxful, you can buy tether by using these steps.

  • Visit the website.
  • Click “Buy” and select tether.
  • Choose your preferred payment method and currency. For example, Paxful offers over 350 payment methods such as PayPal, mobile money, gift cards, crypto, and debit cards. Also, enter the amount you wish to purchase and select your country.
  • Click “Search Offers.”
  • The platform will display a list of offers based on the criteria you chose. Browse through this list paying close attention to the buy limits, prices, offer terms, and time limits.
  • Read the reviews of the sellers that catch your attention. Before choosing a seller, ensure that they are fully verified and active on the platform.
  • Once you find a suitable seller, click “Buy.” Note that you should read the seller’s terms first before starting the transaction.
  • If the platform offers a live chat feature, you and the seller can discuss the transaction details. For instance, the seller will send you the payment details through this chat feature.
  • Make the payment and follow any other instructions the seller has provided. Additional instructions that sellers might require you to undertake include sending a photo of your ID. The seller could use this document to verify that the payment sender matches the name on the ID.
  • Once you complete the payment, confirm on the website that you have paid.
  • The seller will then verify the payment and release your USDT.
  • After a few minutes, your USDT balance should reflect in your account. If you desire, transfer the crypto to another wallet.

Purchase Tether in Person

If you prefer to make a one-on-one transaction, look for local tether sellers on reputable Facebook or Telegram groups, or choose the “in-person” purchase option on a peer-to-peer exchange.

  • Contact the seller and schedule a meeting at a public place. Tell them how much you wish to buy so that they can prepare themselves in advance. They should also tell you how much it will cost.
  • Once you meet with the seller, show them the money as a sign of trust. But do not hand it over just yet. The seller should send you the USDT first.
  • Wait until the new USDT balance reflects in your wallet before paying the seller.

Buying tether is straightforward and flexible. You can use your local currency or another digital currency to acquire this stablecoin. Moreover, using a platform like Paxful gives you more than 350 methods of buying USDT, thereby providing convenience.

To buy Tether USDT in Africa, access Paxful here.

*This article was written in cooperation with Paxful, Africa’s leading peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange.

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Weekly Roundup: Bitcoin Hits over $60,000, Luno Launches ETH & USDC Interest Accounts

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Bitcoin

Bitcoin broke past the $60,000 mark on March 13, 2021, to surpass Facebook in total market value. To learn more about this and other stories, keep reading this article.

Bitcoin Hits Over $60,000 and Surpasses Facebook in Value

Bitcoin AcceptedOn March 13, 2021, bitcoin recorded a high of $61,683.86. This is yet another milestone that the cryptocurrency has achieved after recording a series of several all-time highs in the past three months.

Institutional investors continue to boost bitcoin’s price with Chinese firm Meitu being the latest company to purchase crypto. The firm bought $22.1 million in ether and $17.9 million in bitcoin.

“Beeple’s $69 million [non-fungible token] record demonstrates the true power of crypto, adding curiosity and fuel to the retail fire. Expect volatility but a landing of $100K levels by Q3,” said Jehan Chu, Managing Partner of trading firm Kenetic.

Furthermore, bitcoin’s market cap has risen to the eighth position, surpassing Facebook. Currently, bitcoin has a market capitalization of about $1.07 trillion while Facebook has a market cap of $808.76 billion.

Luno Users Can Now Earn Interest on Ether and USDC Savings

Luno users can now add ETH and USD coin (USDC) to their savings wallet where they can earn 4 percent and 7.6 percent APR, respectively. The exchange introduced the savings wallet five months ago allowing users to earn up to four percent on their bitcoin savings.

Luno Earn

“The addition of two new cryptocurrencies to the savings wallet gives customers even greater flexibility and potential to earn interest as they grow their crypto savings. A high percentage of Africans who own cryptocurrency do so for speculative investment purposes, with the majority holding their crypto for the long term. If your crypto investment strategy is holding your crypto long-term, the savings wallet earns you additional interest for what you were already doing,” said Marius Reitz, the General Manager for Africa, at Luno.

According to a Luno 2020 survey, more than a third of the respondents (35 percent) were not earning interest on their traditional cash savings. On the other hand, 54 percent were not earning interest on their current bank accounts. As a result, Luno wants to change these statistics with its crypto savings wallet.

The savings feature pays out interest monthly and users can access their savings 24/7. Moreover, 250,000 people are using the savings wallet since its launch.

South African Company Invests in Bitcoin

It is not large companies alone that are investing in bitcoin. According to an article on Tech Central, open-source software firm LSD Information Technology has purchased R2 million in bitcoin (about $135,570.70).

The company’s board agreed to invest in the digital asset on January 4, 2021. In the initial purchase, it bought R1 million in bitcoin then bought the other R1 million over the next two weeks. The firm used the crypto exchange BitFund to buy and hold the BTC.

“Our vision is to make the world more open, and bitcoin supports our philosophy on how we believe the world works best. Working in the open-source space seems to attract many crypto enthusiasts for whom the decentralised open nature of cryptocurrencies appeals,” said LSD founder and CEO Stefan Lesicnik.

The firm participates in running and maintaining bitcoin full nodes.

To learn more about Bitcoin, download the Bitcoin Beginner’s Handbook for free.

Bitcoin Beginner's Handbook

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