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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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4 Things You Should Know About Investing in Cryptocurrencies

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investing in cryptocurrencies

If you go through any blog or information platform related to finance and investments, you would have certainly come across the word ‘cryptocurrency.’ In recent years, cryptoassets like bitcoin have been dominating the headlines as more and more people are developing an interest in this sphere. Prices have skyrocketed and are projected to increase further in the next few years.

Despite the influx of new investors, you might be a bit skeptical as to what investing in cryptocurrency actually entails and how suitable it will be for you to do so. Here are a few points you should go through to understand if investing in cryptocurrencies is a good idea:

1. Blockchain technology is the future

Almost all cryptocurrencies rely on blockchain technology to function. The blockchain enables trustless, peer-to-peer transactions that are (generally) recorded on a public ledger. 

Here’s how it works: the financial details of all the transactions ever made are recorded in the blockchain and can be viewed by anyone who wants to. Due to its success in the cryptocurrency industry, blockchain technology is now being adopted by various financial institutions to keep track of transactions. Blockchain technology is poised to dominate systems in the future and it will be good to become acquainted with the technology early on.

2. Improved regulations

As it has developed, the rise of Bitcoin has brought in several regulations. Governments of various countries, where crypto is used widely, have taken several steps to put regulations in place that would ensure that investors’ money is secured and that they are protected from crypto scammers.

In the initial years of Bitcoin, many people were skeptical of investing because they believed that there was too much of a free reign and it needed some regulations in place to ensure investors’ safety. With actions by financial regulators, most of their doubts have been removed as there is now lesser uncertainty in investing in crypto. 

3. The investing process is quite simple

As cryptocurrencies are now becoming increasingly popular, with more and more people investing in it, startups are simplifying the process of investing even further to attract more people. Much of these simplifications can be owed to cryptocurrency exchanges that have been set up over the past few years.

Cryptocurrency wallets have also eased the process as you can simply purchase the services of one with your credit/debit card and then use it to store all of your cryptocurrency in a secure manner. All you need to do is to find a suitable platform to trade cryptocurrency.

Make sure that you spend time to go through the conditions of different platforms and select the ones you feel the most secure about. When you make a purchase via the platform, the crypto will be transferred to your virtual wallet where it will be kept securely until you sell it off or use it for transactions.

You can find a broad explanation of the investing process at the top10cryptobots website to solidify your knowledge about digital asset market trends.

4. Investors don’t have to go through dozens of metrics

There is a set of metrics established for assigning value to any tradable asset. If you take the example of the most common investing platforms – the stock exchanges – you’ll see that investors look for different variables of stocks like their income statements and balance sheets. Investors usually look at fundamentals before assigning value to any asset and then deciding whether or not to invest in it.

In cryptocurrency, this set of predetermined metrics does not exist (yet). You have to look for various trends in the crypto market and decide for yourself when the time is right to invest. 

What is crypto’s future?

how to short bitcoinThis is perhaps the most important question that you would have as a potential investor in bitcoin. Ever since its inception, the cryptocurrency industry has achieved one milestone after another. Prices have been soaring, and more and more investors are trying to get a piece of the pie.

And it’s not just the major assets, like bitcoin, that have seen a positive trend, even the newer ones are witnessing it.

At a time like this, when financial institutions across the world are struggling, and when there have been so many upheavals in the global economy, looking for alternative investments makes sense. 

Up until now, banks were considered the safest place for keeping your money. But in the past several years, we have seen how major banks have sunk overnight and have failed to repay account holders. Investing in stocks has also become very risky. Cryptocurrencies have shown an overall increase in prices even after so many crises all across the globe. Further, these prices are expected to soar even more within the next five years. In fact, it is being predicted that Bitcoin would surpass its all-time high of $19,783.

Making a decision of investing in something you haven’t done before can seem like a bit of a gamble. But keeping all these points in mind, it would be safe to say that if you get a proper understanding of how crypto world works, you could do well with your digital asset investments.

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Blockchain, Cloud, and Other Modern Technologies Applied in Gaming

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Technologies Applied in Gaming

Gaming has evolved tremendously since its beginnings. New technology discoveries enabled developers to create games that take the concept of fantasy to the next level, making the virtual world so much more alike to the real one. This is only possible through the implementation of new technologies in the world of gaming.

In this article, we will cover the newest technologies that have made their way into gaming, further enhancing this industry.

Blockchain

Kenya Blockchain Report

Since its invention, blockchain was quickly implemented in gaming since it allows for the creation of peer-to-peer games where users can interact without the need of a third party. This aspect made it a great fit for gambling, allowing casinos to build platforms where users can gamble directly with one another in a free and private manner.

An online casino app can already allow people to gamble in a convenient way, as long as they have Internet access. These apps are very advantageous since players don’t have any location or time zone restraints. Furthermore, online casinos are pioneers in privacy and cybersecurity, offering users an all-around quality experience.

However, blockchain can still further improve the gambling and gaming worlds. The potential of this technology is still unfulfilled but, as new startups emerge, innovation follows, making blockchain an ever more viable option for the future of gaming.

Cloud Gaming

The case for cloud gaming makes a lot of sense in 2020. Games are getting bigger each year, the hardware requirements increasing constantly. This makes it difficult for the recreational gamer to keep up with the minimum gaming standards. Updating hardware pieces can be a tedious process that many people don’t want to engage in.

Cloud technologies can allow people to play even the latest games, regardless of the type of machine they are using. Google Stadia is one of the most popular cloud gaming platforms out there. The opinions regarding its performance are varied but, Google is certainly the one company that can pull off this concept.

Ultra Realistic Graphics

Video game graphics are becoming insanely realistic. Sometimes it’s very difficult to discern between reality and a virtual game. This aspect allows for the creation of a more immersive experience, enhancing the entertainment experienced by users. Popular games like GTA 5, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Witcher 3 have some of the best graphics out there, while still being resource effective.

Facial Recognition

Some games tell the story of a protagonist, making you fall in love with that character regardless if it’s Master Chief from Halo or Mario. However, other games allow you to create an avatar, custom to your liking. Until now, this feature was technologically constrained but, facial recognition and 3D scanning can allow you to create an avatar that looks just like you. This technology can personalise the gaming experience like never before.

Virtual Reality

An obvious one on this list, VR is the one technology that can revolutionise the way we interact with games. Whilst this is still experimental and reliant on advanced hardware, with a bit more work and a few more years of waiting, VR can be a commercially viable gaming niche. Regardless if we’re talking about an online casino or an action game, VR can provide the ultimate immersive experience.

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Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Warms to Financial Innovation

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Financial Innovation

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is warming to the idea of emerging financial technologies as it joins the rest of the world in cautiously welcoming digital money. This was revealed when the RBZ governor, John Mangudya, presented the country’s monetary policy statement for the year 2020 on February 17.

The latest announcement is a continuation of the central bank’s rapprochement towards emerging financial innovations after a turbulent 2018 when it had run-ins with technology companies that sold or facilitated the sale of crypto tokens to the Zimbabwean public.

RBZ’s Change of Heart

The RBZ now agrees that technology and innovations have significantly altered the financial landscape and the way financial institutions offer services and products and that Zimbabwe needs to move with the times.

In his brief statement on the topic, the governor touched on the RBZ’s progress in establishing a regulatory sandbox that will allow innovators to connect to banks and other financial institutions.

Mangudya said:

“Further to the advice in the 2019 Mid Term Monetary Policy Statement, the Bank (RBZ) has embarked on several initiatives to establish the Fintech agenda. The Bank is in the process of finalizing a regulatory sandbox framework. The framework will outline the qualification, application and evaluation criterion for entities to be admitted into the sandbox. The operationalisation of the framework will thus promote competition and efficiencies through innovation.”

RBZ now says banking institutions must upgrade their information communication technologies (ICTs) to be system consistent with developments in the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. Additionally, banks are expected to explore new technologies and business models to enable them to compete in the digital age.

Statement Vague on Critical Aspects

However, the statement does not address the question of whether fintech ventures, such as privately issued cryptocurrencies, remain banned or not. There is still confusion on whether it is cryptocurrency trading that is banned or if it is the selling of tokens to the public that is banned.

The RBZ, which lacks a consistent and coherent position on this subject, appears to be reading from the same script as many of its peers from the continent. Several African central banks have previously shown a determined opposition towards privately issued tokens and the underlying blockchain technology.

Nevertheless, as the ignorance levels concerning this innovation continue to drop, so too has been the opposition. In fact, many central banks believe they can join in this space by creating their own cryptocurrencies, called central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

Some are at very advanced stages of issuing these while others are still at the studying stage. On the African continent, the Egyptian central bank had indicated its intention to launch its own CBDC as well as Ghana and Mauritius. 

The RBZ has announced an intention to issue its own CBDC but a mere statement was enough to spark excitement among the country’s blockchain industry players.

Cautious Welcome

Cryptocurrency Token SalesBitcoinAfrica.io asked Zimbabweans involved in the country’s small blockchain space for their reaction to this latest announcement by the RBZ.

We reached out to Mike Makazhe, a young entrepreneur who says he is working to create a cryptocurrency for Zimbabweans.

Makazhe said: “I think financial institutions need to improve. It’s true most of their services are outdated and Pecunia (his crypto project) can help bring this (expected) to life.”

Another influential figure in Zimbabwe’s blockchain space, who did not wish to be identified, was less sanguine about this latest announcement.

He said: “The only thing I think about it is they are taking a dribble. They are happy with a broken system because it works in their favour.”

According to him, the RBZ is just putting on a show but lacks the will to actually implement some of the fintech proposals contained in the monetary policy.

The same sentiments were echoed by another crypto enthusiast who commented on this development in one crypto chat group on social media. The individual also noted that there was a lot of emphasis on banks and less on the private players that fall outside the RBZ’s regulatory reach.

These were also the sentiments shared by other individuals in the crypto community. They cautiously welcome this announcement but say the RBZ should be judged on implementation not the intention.

Zimbabwean institutions like the RBZ are notorious for taking their time to adopt technologies and systems that improve efficiency but are quick to implement anything that improves collection of revenues or the scarce foreign currency.

For example, it has taken the RBZ several years to capacitate a credit reference bureau, a body that can potentially end the country’s problem of high levels of non-performing loans. Some fear the same approach will be used on fintechs and the country will lag behind as the rest of the continent move ahead to adopt this innovation.

Zimbabwe’s small fintech industry expects the RBZ to issue more statements that clarify the country’s position as the year progresses. 

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