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How to guard against online scam and hacking

Though the Internet has become one of the most popular tools used to transact business, it has also become a tool used by fraudsters to…

Though the Internet has become one of the most popular tools used to transact business, it has also become a tool used by fraudsters to commit fraud.  Cyber security experts say criminals have become more  sophisticated with their hacking techniques. 

As a result, it’s extremely important for consumers to secure their wireless networks and filter the amount of personal information they choose to divulge online.

In 2020, internet users lost more than $100 million from scams initiated through the web, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. While companies that operate online have taken steps to improve security and protect sensitive data, criminals’ tactics have also become more sophisticated, putting customer’s personal information at risk.

These are some tips from security experts to keep you safe online:

  1. Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date.  

Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.

2.Set strong passwords. 

A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

  1. Watch out for phishing scams. 

Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with. 

  1. Keep personal information personal.

 Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. 

Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc.  Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.

  1. Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.
  2. Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.
  3. Read the site’s privacy policies. Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects. If you don’t see or understand a site’s privacy policy, consider doing business elsewhere.

Meanwhile​, an estimated 2.7 billion people – or one-third of the world’s population – remain unconnected to the Internet in 2022, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has said.

New data from the ITU, the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies, point to slower growth in the number of Internet users than at the height of COVID-19.

An estimated 5.3 billion people worldwide are now using the Internet. While continued growth is encouraging, the trend suggests that without increased infrastructure investment and a new impetus to foster digital skills, the chance of connecting everyone by 2030 looks increasingly slim.

“The COVID-19 pandemic gave us a big connectivity boost, but we need to keep the momentum going to ensure that everyone, everywhere can benefit from digital technologies and services,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “This can only be achieved with more investments in digital networks and technologies, implementing best practice regulation, and a continued focus on skills development as we move to a post-pandemic era.”

ITU’s new estimate of 2.7 billion people unconnected compares with an updated estimate of 3 billion people unconnected worldwide in 2021.

In 2019, prior to the COVID pandemic, an estimated 3.6 billion people, or nearly half the world’s population, were unconnected.

Amid concerns about slowing progress, ITU analysis indicates two major challenges in terms of advancing the world’s digital transformation:

First, achieving universal connectivity – which in effect means bringing the remaining one-third of humanity online – will prove increasingly difficult. Most relatively easy-to-connect communities now have access to technologies like mobile broadband, spurring rapid and widespread uptake of digital services. Those still offline mostly live in remote, hard-to-reach areas.

Second, the shift from basic to meaningful connectivity – by which people not only have ready access to the Internet but are able to use it regularly and effectively to improve their lives – is complex. Often, such challenges are overlooked or under-estimated. Barriers can include slow Internet speed; limited affordability of hardware and subscription packages; inadequate digital awareness and skills; and linguistic and literacy barriers, as well as issues like gender discrimination or the lack of reliable a power source. All these need to be addressed if everyone is to enjoy equitable access to online resources.

Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, said: “While the rise in the number of people using the Internet worldwide is positive, we should not assume the robust growth witnessed in recent years will continue unabated. Those who are still not using the Internet will be the most difficult to bring online. They live in remote areas, often belong to disadvantaged groups, and in some cases are unfamiliar with what the Internet can offer. That is why our target needs to be not just universal connectivity, but universal meaningful connectivity.”

ITU defines ‘meaningful connectivity’ as a level of connectivity that allows users to have a safe, satisfying, enriching and productive online experience at an affordable cost.