5 Ways to Stay Secure Online

28 January 2020

How often do you access the Internet? Probably a bit too often, but how often do you do so using an insecure network?

While we all know that the Internet is a dangerous place, we may not all realize how accessing the World Wide Web opens us up to even greater risks. Unsafe surfing leads to threats from hackers, scams, malware and more.

Wherever you go online, ZOL Zimbabwe wants you to stay safe. By taking a small handful of security measures we can greatly reduce our exposure to all these threats.

Here are 5 online security basics to help you get started:

1.    Hook Up to a Network That You Know.

Free Wi-Fi is tempting, but be sure that you consider who is providing the connection. Public connections at the local coffee shop are usually unsecured and leave your machine open to outsiders. While these networks provide convenience, there are risks to be aware of. A clever person will sign up to reputable service providers networks, for instance, ZOL spot or ZOL secure. 

2.    Bank and Shop with Caution.

Shopping from familiar websites is a good place to start. Stick with the reputable sites that are tried and true – like Amazon or eBay. Also, when checking out and finalizing the purchase, look for the ‘padlock’ symbol or the abbreviation ‘https’ in the address bar at the top of your browser. This will ensure that you are on a secure, encrypted part of this webpage. Keeping an eye on your bank statements for suspicious activity is always a good idea, among these other best practices for shopping online.

3.    Use Secure Passwords.

Passwords for logging into any website should contain a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters – as well as be different for each website that you log into. It can definitely be a pain to remember all these passwords but ask yourself which is more of a pain – remembering these or recovering stolen personal information. 

4.    Lock Your Computer.

When you walk away from your machine, lock it. In Windows, it is as easy as pressing the Windows key + L. On an Apple Mac, pressing “Control+Shift+Eject” will do the trick (unless you do not have an optical drive, then you can hit the “Power” key instead of “Eject”). This practice would be the equivalent to deadbolting the front door of your home. It acts as a deterrent to the bad guys as well as a line of defence. It may even be worth setting up a password lock on your Apple or Windows machine as well.

5. Do not click on anything unfamiliar.

 If an offer is too good to be true, it probably is. If you get an email from an unknown source, do not click any of the links within it – and immediately report it to your IT department. If a window pops up while browsing a website, immediately close it. Familiarity is always your friend. Using your judgment and trusting your gut is the ultimate defence when online. Always play it safe!