Gideon Sarpong writes: Basic steps to enhance your privacy and security within the digital ecosystem

Promoting digital rights in Africa

Digital security is important because it allows users to navigate the digital ecosystem free from risks such as identity theft, theft of personal information, cyber-fraud, cyber bullying and many others.

Although the internet sometimes seem like a jungle of a million different threats, iWatch Africa’s Gideon Sarpong, outlines the following basic steps one can take to protect himself or herself within the digital ecosystem.

Enable Two-Step Authentication

Also known as multi- or two-factor authentication or login approval – two-step verification provides an extra layer of security beyond your username and password to protect against account hijacking. When using this security mechanism, you will log in using your password and then be prompted verify your identity again. This second verification is usually done via a biometric (fingerprint or face scan), security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device.

Many websites and companies offer two-step verification, and they make it easy to set up this second layer – usually found in the settings section of your account. Using two-step authentication can help you feel more secure, especially for sites containing your financial information.

Check a Site’s SSL Certificate

Whenever you’re shopping online and entering credit card or bank information, it’s important to make sure that website is secured to protect against hackers trying to steal your info. You can find out if a website is secure by checking its SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certification. While this process sounds complicated, it’s actually one of the simplest and quickest things to do for your online security.

When on a website, check the URL. Does it start with “http://” or “https://”? If you notice an s at the end, that means your connection is encrypted and secure, so any data you enter is safely sent to the website. Not all sites have SSL certification. While they may be fine to browse, avoid sharing any financial or personal information on websites without this added layer of security.

Create Strong, Unique Passwords

Using the same password for every account it is not a safe. Often, people don’t realize their account has been hacked.

Make your password a sentence: A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “I love country music.”). On many sites, you can even use spaces!

Start using a few of these tips today. As you get in the habit of following security best practices, you can feel more protected online and aware of common online scams.

Read Also: How cybercrime and digital technologies are fueling illicit financial flows in Ghana

Use End to End encryption Apps

End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a system of communication where only the communicating parties can read the messages.

For internet users who prefer their communication to remain private without snooping by third party agents, there are a number of apps such as Signal that are available to help protect users’ privacy.

The messages are encrypted by the sender but the third party does not have a means to decrypt them, and stores them encrypted. The recipient retrieves the encrypted data and decrypts it themselves.

Article by Gideon Sarpong | iWatch Africa |

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Gideon Sarpong

Gideon Sarpong is a media practitioner with over six years experience in data, investigative and policy journalism. Gideon is currently the Policy and News Director at iWatch Africa. His major role includes developing news strategy for correspondents across Ghana, as well as designing project and policy focus for the organisation. He is an author with over eight publications; a fellow of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Thomson Reuters Foundation (Wealth of Nations Program), Commonwealth Youth Program (DYLP) and Bloomberg Data for Health Program. Gideon holds a degree in economics from the University of Cape Coast and PgD in Policy Journalism and Media Studies from the University of Zambia. He is a firm believer in the use of data journalism and technology for development and is committed to promoting transparency and accountability in Africa.

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