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Wash Wash 2.0: Even Wakanda Needs Protection.

Let’s face it. Cyber scams are not a question of “if”, rather than “when”. I bet you’ve heard or come across ‘Silicon Savannah’ somewhere. That’s Kenya, a country flourishing with a burning potential in the tech landscape. It’s not yet Wakanda, but no worries, we’ll be there well be there.

We just need to overcome one of the thousand and one barriers on a way; Cyber scams.

We just can’t hide from the fact that humanity is gradually migrating towards an online civilization, connected by the international network. Internet, if you may. This, unfortunately, is the home to cyber criminals. It’s the old story of a deer walking into a lion’s den. Only this time, the deer are unsuspecting businesses or individuals, the lions are cyber criminals and the den, the internet. This is not meant to scare you but give you a rundown of the situation. Moreover to understand the magnitude of cybers cams in Kenya, consider not skipping the following paragraph:

According to a report by Allianz, Kenya suffered a loss of at least $153 million to cybercrime in 2022, which is projected to rise by 14 per cent annually. The report also notes that the alarming resurgence of ransomware attacks last year saw insurance claims rise by over 50 per cent in 2023 compared to 2022.

Some of the common cyber crimes in Kenya include unauthorized access, unauthorized interference, false publications, computer forgery, computer fraud, cyber harassment, identity theft, impersonation and phishing among others.  The country faces a severe deficit of cybersecurity expertise, with less than 2,000 experts compared to the needed 40,000 to 50,000.

We need to change this year’s report, so that it reads the exact opposite of the above.

But how?

It all comes down to an individual. As a frequent internet user, it’s important to be aware of some of the cyber scams and how to take proactive steps to avoid getting cyber scammed. This simply starts by understanding the common types of cyber scams, taking a sharp u-turn away from them and running. Fast. Our goal and purpose today? – providing practical advice to avoid scams.

We first have to identify the problem so as to solve it. Here are some of the common types of cyber scams:

1. Phishing Scams: Phishing scams involve fake emails that impersonate familiar faces or reputable companies. These emails often try to trick you into clicking on suspicious links or providing sensitive information like passwords or credit card details. Emphasis goes to the Diversity Visa applicants or the Green Card Lottery. You can only apply for a chance at a DV at:

And remember, legitimate companies/institutions don’t ask for personal data via email, SMS or calls!

2. Sweepstakes and Awards Scams: Spin the wheel, win a car or house or a million shillings. Do NOT spin the wheel! These scams promise extravagant prizes like cars, expensive phones, or cash, but they require you to pay a ‘small processing fee’ or need your ‘personal bank details’ for ‘payment confirmation’. These scams are designed to suck your digital wallets dry. If you receive such ‘opportunities’ from friends or family, do not engage with such and do not share them.

3. Investment Scams: Investment scams lure victims with promises of high profits and low risk. In other relatable words, Wash Wash. They often present golden opportunities to double your money, but they are usually too good to be true. Always do thorough research and exercise caution before investing your money.

4. Lawsuit or Tax Scams: Scammers use fear and urgency to trick victims into believing they owe urgent payments for lawsuits or taxes. It’s important to verify the legitimacy of any claims with a verified respective government official before providing any personal or financial information.

5. Romance Scams: This goes to our friends at the Hopeless Romantic booth. These scams target individuals seeking love and companionship online. Scammers create fake profiles and build emotional connections before asking for money under the pretense of personal emergencies. Be very cautious when someone you’ve met online asks for money.

6. Tech Support Scams: Tech support scams involve imposters posing as technical support personnel. They offer remote assistance to fix nonexistent problems with your devices, gaining access to your sensitive data in the process. Legitimate tech support does not come unsolicited, so be cautious and seek help from trusted sources.

7. Mobile loan scams: Promises of quick loans through apps, but then demand upfront fees or threaten to falsely report the victim as a defaulter.

8. Job scams: Fake job postings that ask for personal details or payments before a job starts.

9. Rental scams: Fraudulent listings with photos of desirable properties for rent below market value, often requesting deposits before any in-person viewing.

So, now we now know. It’s time to learn how to act:

Use strong and unique passwords

Passwords are the primary way we secure our online accounts and personal information. Yet many people still use weak passwords that can easily be guessed or cracked with tools available online. Experts recommend using long passwords with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols that are different for each account. A password manager can generate and store secure passwords to make this easier to implement. Just make sure it’s from a reputable source like Google’s password manager.

Keep software updated

Yes, that windows update you’ve been avoiding could save you from a cyber scam. Outdated software often has known security vulnerabilities that cybercriminals actively exploit. By updating your operating system, apps and browser as soon as updates are available, you eliminate these entry points for hackers. One good example was the security flaw in WhatsApp that was fixed via an app update, protecting over 2 billion users globally( Staying up-to-date is critical for your online safety.

Review privacy and security settings

Social media platforms give us control over how much personal information is visible publicly. Take some time to audit and tighten these settings on accounts like Facebook and Instagram. Limit what posts, photos and details strangers can see. Also adjust who can message or find you easily. Regularly checking privacy and security settings helps reduce risk of exposure online.

Use a reputable VPN service

A virtual private network (VPN) secures your internet connection from hackers while maintaining your online privacy. It encrypts all web traffic and hides your IP address and location. Leading VPN providers like Express VPN or Nord VPN offer military-grade encryption at affordable prices for both personal and business use online. This help protect your sensitive data from prying eyes and ensures a safer browsing experience.

Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts. In addition to your password, you’ll need to provide a second form of verification, such as a fingerprint scan or a one-time code sent to your mobile device. Many popular services, including Kenyan banking institutions like Equity Bank, and online platforms like Jumia, offer 2FA to enhance user security. Enabling this feature significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access to your accounts. Recovery might be dreadful in case you forgot a password but can you guess what else might be dreadful?

Regularly back up your data

Data loss can occur due to hardware failure, malware attacks, or even accidental deletion. To protect your valuable files and memories, it’s essential to regularly back up your data to an external hard drive or cloud storage service. Cloud providers like iDeveloper, Sentinel Solutions and Pawa IT Solutions provide secure and reliable cloud backup solutions for individuals and businesses.

Educate yourself and loved ones

Cybersecurity education is crucial for everyone, from children to adults. Stay informed about the latest threats and scams targeting Kenyans. Share this knowledge with your family and friends to help them protect themselves online. Local organizations like the Kenya Computer Incident Response Team Coordination Centre (KE-CIRT/CC) provide resources and awareness campaigns to promote cybersecurity across the country. By staying educated and vigilant, you can build a safer online environment for yourself and your community.

Protecting yourself online is a continuous effort, but the benefits of a safe and secure online experience far outweigh the potential risks. Stay safe, stay vigilant, and enjoy the digital world responsibly. And in as much as you’re on the lookout for cyber scams, be wary of any other scams. Do not drop your guard on the old school scams!

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