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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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5 Reasons Why Online Casinos Should Adopt Cryptocurrencies

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online casinos

Online casinos are at the forefront of technological innovation in the gambling industry, while cryptocurrencies are arguably the most innovative payment solution on the Internet. 

In this article, we will discuss the top five reasons why online casinos should consider adopting cryptocurrencies as a payment method. 

Access to More Markets

Online casinos heavily rely on online payment platforms such as PayPal and Stripe. Despite the fact that online casinos are available in all areas with Internet connectivity, not all Internet users are able to use these platforms. 

Payment platforms such as PayPal and Stripe are not available in all jurisdictions. Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Ghana, for example, are not supported by PayPal. What’s more, some countries have low debit card and credit card penetration, making it difficult for customers from such markets to use online casinos.

Cryptocurrency payments are available worldwide and present an important use case for internet casinos that want to reach an entirely new market of prospective bettors who are unaccounted for by payment platforms. By supporting cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, online casinos stand a chance of reaching new users from markets without popular online payment platform support or penetration.

Access to a New Community of Bettors

The cryptocurrency community has grown exponentially over the last few years with big businesses built around the cryptocurrency ecosystem and its users.

Bitcoin Accepted

With a total cryptocurrency market capitalisation of $266 billion, online casinos that support cryptocurrencies could reach a new community of bettors who prefer to use digital currencies over other payment methods. 

The cryptocurrency community is riding a huge wave of momentum. Many companies that have strategically placed themselves in the ecosystem have seen exponential growth as a result. Online casinos that add cryptocurrency payments could also benefit from the momentum of a rapidly growing online economy.

Lower Fees  

Online gambling providers are generating healthy profits according to market statistics and predictions. However, these platforms could increase profits further if less of their revenue was lost to payment platform fees. 

Bank cards and online payment platforms charge a percentage for all transactions. Fees for cryptocurrency transactions, however, are usually far less and are generally paid by the user. By adding cryptocurrencies, online casinos could accept payments faster and incur lower on fees.

Currently, small merchants pay between two to four percent per credit card transaction, which often involves additional “hidden fees.” Cryptocurrency transaction fees are comparatively low and do not include hidden fees.  

No Chargeback Fraud

Chargeback fraud, also known as friendly fraud, occurs when a consumer makes an online purchase with their credit card and then demands a chargeback from the issuing bank after receiving the purchased goods or services.

Cryptocurrencies offer online merchants protection from chargeback fraud. Unlike credit card payments where transactions can be disputed even after they have been charged, cryptocurrency transactions are final.

For online gambling providers who accept exclusively cryptocurrency payments, chargeback fraud is a thing of the past. 

Increased Publicity

Cryptocurrencies have one of the biggest communities online, full of passionate people who are always happy to propagate positive news, such as the addition of cryptocurrency as a payment method at an online casino store. Additionally, online platforms that accept cryptocurrency as a means of payment also receive extra coverage from cryptocurrency media.

This additional publicity comes in handy for online casinos due to the saturated nature of the industry, which requires platforms to leverage every opportunity that puts them ahead of the competition.

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Is Nigeria Likely to Formalise Remittances and Become the Third-Largest Inbound Market Worldwide?

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IMTC AFRICA 2019

Nigeria is the sixth-largest recipient of remittances in the world with an estimated volume of nearly $25 billion a year. This estimate for remittances flow doesn’t account for the informal market, that even if it is shrinking, as most analysts believe, it adds approximately $10 to $15 billion a year to the formal number. That places remittances for Nigeria at around $40 billion. If this were to be true, then it would squarely place the country as having the third-largest volume of remittances in the entire world, ahead of the Philippines and Mexico with highly formal markets.

IMTC AfricaIn a blog post published by remittance expert Hugo Cuevas-Mohr, he discussed the volume of remittances to Nigeria and the importance of achieving more accurate figures and the success in formalising the remittance market in Nigeria. These are also key topics that will be extensively examined at IMTC AFRICA 2019, a conference that will take place in Lagos on September 24-26 at the EKO Hotel. IMTC is the leading gathering for international money transfer, cross-border payment, and Fintech companies around the world and has chosen Nigeria as the site of its biannual African event to help in the innovation, formalisation, and transparency of remittances in the country.

Why Formalisation is Necessary

Parallel markets, or informal markets, are notorious for skewing a country’s volume, revenue, and wealth statistics; in an age where data is glorified, it is clear to see why this is such a problem. Countries are valued and respected based on their stats, and if Nigeria’s stats are not reflecting the true volume of remittances, then their significance is being missed.

The Nigerian Naira is traded at different rates on the parallel market than on the official market. For instance, as of August 6, the Central Bank of Nigeria valued 1 USD at 306 NGN (Niara), whereas the parallel markets revealed that 1 USD was actually trading at 360 NGN. Such a large discrepancy in the exchange rate reveals just a portion of the issues taking place. If the parallel market exchange rates are correct, then it is extremely unlikely that Nigeria will be successful in curbing the informal market. 

Nigeria’s parallel markets have been prevalent for some time now, but the issue became serious in 2016 when the Central Bank of Nigeria, to curb the informal market, limited the number of legal money transfers to only three International MTOs: Western Union, MoneyGram, and Ria. This subsequently forced all other MTOs to call upon CBN to allow more MTOs to be licensed, jumping to more than 60 in three years. Has the strategy from CBN been successful?

Mr. Cuevas-Mohr states in his blog: “The remittance market in terms of companies abroad serving the Nigerian Diaspora is growing now at a fast pace as remittance volumes to the country increase, partly due to organic growth and partly due to more funds being channeled through official channels.”

Leon Isaacs, IMTC AFRICA 2019 Co-Chair, and an expert in remittances will discuss extensively at the conference the findings that his surveys and data gathering work is revealing. Other topics to be discussed at this trendsetting event will be the impact of Payment Service Banks and Fintechs on remittances, the role of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, the importance of strong compliance and risk management and the importance of MTO partnerships with local banks and Fintechs to help to formalise remittances.

Nigeria And the Mobile Industry

man with mobileAnother pressing topic at the conference is that of the mobile industry. In a recent development, the Nigerian government is allowing mobile companies to directly offer financial services. Previously, mobile companies were required to form rigid agreements with banks to offer financial services in the country. These new companies will be known as Payment Service Banks (PSBs), similar to how India enables mobile companies to offer such services.

This is massive news for the world of remittances as PSBs can give their unbanked customers, and generally to all low-income residents, the opportunity to manage mobile money as the digital ecosystem grows. It can also impact the government’s financial inclusion initiatives. The impact of the PSBs in the remittance market is hard to predict but everybody will be watching. Mr. Cuevas-Mohr said: “It will take time to see the impact to the market of Telcos being allowed finally to offer themselves financial services, and remittances.”

As many MTOs participating at the IMTC AFRICA 2019 conference in Lagos have expressed, the event comes at the best time for the industry in Africa. Filled with a compliance course, an innovation forum, panel discussions, keynote speakers, roundtables, and ample time to network with industry leaders, the event will be a gathering of the Who-is-Who in the field of African remittances.

The article was contributed by David Cullinan. 

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South Africans Can Now Invest in Crypto-Asset Bundles

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Crypto-Asset Bundles

South Africans can now invest in crypto-asset bundles thanks to Revix, a digital asset management platform incorporated in the UK. Revix aims to expose investors to 80 percent of the cryptocurrency market through bundles.

Bitcoin Africa talked to Revix’s co-founder Sean Sanders to better understand this new digital asset investment option.

Passive Crypto Investment Through Bundles

Bundles are cryptocurrency portfolios that expose an investor to a diversified number of cryptoassets at a low cost while reducing risk. These bundles are comprised of the top cryptocurrencies that are rebalanced each month to keep investments up-to-date with the changing market.

“The name Revix stands for ‘revolutionary index’ and we plan to shake up the cryptocurrency space by providing a secure and smarter way to invest in digital currencies. We are looking to broaden the appeal of cryptocurrencies by making the investment experience seamless. We target investors who are interested in crypto, but do not have the time or inclination to research every opportunity, work out the technicalities of investing, or properly understand the challenges of holding their assets,” said Sanders.

Revix uses diversification because it is difficult to forecast which cryptocurrencies will gain traction and which will not. By holding a diversified basket of assets, the investors’ risk declines while returns can increase.

Revix offers the following bundles:

  1. Top ten bundle: this bundle contains the top ten cryptocurrencies.
  2. Payment bundle: this bundle includes the top five largest cryptocurrencies focused on payments.
  3. Platform bundle: this bundle holds the five biggest platform-focused cryptocurrencies.
  4. Privacy bundle: this bundle comprises of the three largest privacy cryptocurrencies.

Sean Sanders and Louis Buys founded Revix in 2018 and held a launch on April 2019. The co-founders also raised R10 million during the first round of funding from Sabvest, an investment group listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

How Bundles Work

To get started on Revix, register and deposit funds in your preferred currency. Investors can begin with as little as R500. Once you have deposited funds, you can now choose a bundle and invest in it.

Revix

According to Sanders, Revix leverages proprietary technology to link investors to crypto exchanges with a smart price routing algorithm that looks for the best available price for investors.

“By connecting with global, liquid markets and using technology, we can get better prices than what has otherwise been available to local investors. Major factors for local investors are the currency devaluation and geopolitical risk hedges that cryptocurrencies offer. With a rand depreciating over the long term, moving into an asset class that is peer-to-peer, borderless, and uncorrelated to South African specific risks is attractive,” he told Bitcoin Africa.

Revix charges a one percent transaction fee when purchasing or selling a bundle. The platform also ensures that all fees incurred are displayed to the user. Investors’ funds are secured in cold storage across multiple-vaulted locations.

Why Invest in Crypto?

trading strategies you should knowSanders believes that investing in cryptoassets offers South Africans an opportunity to “see the birth and application” of blockchain technology.

“The world of cryptocurrencies is not coming, it is already here, and we have already seen this asset class increase by multiples compared to all other asset classes out there. I mean, cryptocurrencies are the top-performing asset class of the last decade which should not be overlooked,” Sanders asserted.

Rather than waiting to see how the technology pans out, Sanders advocates taking advantage of the opportunity at the present. However, he advises against investing your life savings in cryptocurrencies. All you need to experience crypto and the blockchain is a small portion of your wealth, he said.

Why South Africa?

Revix is offering its investment products in South Africa because the country enables businesses to build online platforms at low costs and the regulatory environment supports enterprises in the crypto scene.

Furthermore, South Africa has a pool of professionals with technical skills in the blockchain and computer science fields. This factor is attractive to companies in the blockchain and crypto industry like Revix.

“South Africa is a key market for us as the country has a diversity of people with vastly different demographics allowing us to test specific concepts and strategies and get customer feedback while managing scale,” Sanders stated.

The Revix platform is attracting a wide range of users such as fresh graduates, retirees, investors well-versed with traditional finance but who are only now learning about crypto, and investors who are unfamiliar with traditional finance but knowledgeable about crypto.

Advocating for Crypto Regulation

Revix

Revix’s Louis Buys and Sean Sanders

Although the regulatory environment in South Africa is crypto-friendly, Sanders thinks that more should be done to enable businesses like his to run more smoothly.

Since a clear regulatory guideline is missing, crypto businesses like Revix take longer to create relationships with banks because of the perceived risk and they operate unlicensed. Therefore, Sanders is welcoming local regulation because it will offer more protection to consumers, provide guidelines on how to treat this asset class, and encourage institutions to participate in this market.

Sanders is an entrepreneur in the crypto space and has established other startups besides Revix. In the past, he has worked for a VC firm and an investment management company. With regards to recent trends in the crypto space, Sanders believes that Facebook’s Libra coin will drive the adoption and acceptance of digital currencies globally.

The South African Reserve Bank announced earlier in 2019 that it is carrying out a central bank digital currency feasibility study while the South African Revenue Service announced cryptocurrency tax laws in 2018. These events could indicate that South Africa is taking positive steps towards recognising, accepting, and adopting digital currencies.

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