The Sunday Mail
IN a proactive effort to enhance cybersecurity awareness among Zimbabweans, the Government — led by the Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services — has designated every November as the Cybersecurity Awareness Month.
The Cybersecurity Strategy Conference — a collaborative event hosted by the ministry, together with academics and industry representatives — marked the launch of this year’s initiative on November 1, 2023.
The meeting served as a platform to discuss different issues related to the Cybersecurity Strategy.
Cybersecurity is a vital issue for everyone in the digital world. Therefore, every Zimbabwean should participate in the Cybersecurity Awareness Month activities and learn how to protect themselves and others from cyber threats.
This article is about how every Zimbabwean can play a role in the Cybersecurity Awareness Month. In November and beyond, you can stay safe online by following four key behaviours recommended by cybersecurity experts.
These steps are simple, but they can make a big difference in protecting you from cyber attacks. You can start applying these steps right after reading this article.
You must also spread the word and share the four key behaviours discussed below with every Zimbabwean.
Create strong passwords
Like door/gate locks, strong passwords are the cornerstone of online protection, safeguarding your personal information and valuable assets from unauthorised access.
A strong password is long, complex, unique and hard to guess. It should have at least 12 characters and include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
It should not contain any common words, names, dates or personal information. A strong password could be Q7w!9zE%tY3* or 7&3pec8al2%^.
A password manager tool helps you to create, store and fill in strong passwords for websites and apps. It can also alert you if your passwords are weak, reused or compromised.
A password manager can save you time and hassles, as you only need to remember one master password to access all your other passwords.
Turn on multifactor authentication
This is one of the key behaviours often overlooked by many of us.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a method that requires the user to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to a resource such as an application, online account or a virtual private network (VPN).
MFA is the core of a strong identity and access management (IAM) policy. Rather than just ask for a username and password, MFA requires one or more additional verification factors, which decreases the likelihood of a successful cyber-attack.
The MFA option is available for our email accounts, social media accounts and most apps that store sensitive information.
Always ensure the MFA is turned on for an extra layer of security. MFA goes beyond the traditional username and password login by requiring additional verification factors to confirm your identity.
This added layer of security significantly reduces the risk of unauthorised access, even if your password is compromised.
Recognise and report phishing
Phishing, not fishing, involves disguising fraudulent messages as legitimate communications from trusted sources to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links.
To safeguard yourself from falling prey to phishing scams, it is crucial to recognise the common red flags that indicate a potential attempt to trick you.
One of the oldest tricks many of us fall for is an email claiming we have won a prize that we never entered a contest for.
To claim our reward, we are asked to click on a link that may lead to a malicious website.
Please, watch out for unsolicited emails or messages, urgent or threatening language, poor grammar and spelling mistakes, requests for sensitive information and suspicious links.
If you receive a suspicious email or message, report it to the organisation it claims to be from.
Many organisations have dedicated phishing reporting mechanisms to help identify and block phishing campaigns.
Update your software
Always update your software. This is a very important practice as it can help you protect your devices and data from cyber threats.
Software updates are used by developers to fix errors, improve performance and add new product features.
They also address any security vulnerabilities cybercriminals may exploit to attack your systems.
By updating your software regularly, you can benefit from the latest improvements and enhancements, thereby reduce your risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime.
As I conclude, I urge you to post online safety tips and reminders about the Cybersecurity Awareness Month on your social networks.
Use the hashtags #CybersecurityAwarenessMonth and #BeCyberSmart on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites.
John Tseriwa is a tech entrepreneur and digital transformation advocate focusing on delivering business solutions powered by Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. He can be contacted at: [email protected] or +263773289802.