October is Cyber Security Month

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October every year is internationally recognized as Cyber Security Awareness Month, but what exactly is Cyber Security in the first place you could wonder?

Incepted in October 2003, this month has been set aside as a way of reminding and educating the masses worldwide to always be on alert and secure as they engage and explore online spaces and platforms, as we shall see as this write-up goes on.

Given the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown, the internet really came through as most of us were stuck in our houses, and with a halt on social gatherings, music concerts, and so forth, what was left with us was solace our smart devices and the internet could provide as we used it to video chat with friends, and family who were a distance away, study online and attend virtual concerts. Online businesses as a trend also took form as a number of users bought and sold goods virtually, using online retailers.

According to a Hootsuite and We Are Social Report, mobile internet users shot up by 1.8% between January 2020 and January 2021, and an overall increment of 7.3% (+316million) people was realized around the same period. Social Media saw a growth rate of +13.6% in the number of active users, with Facebook being in the lead and WhatsApp as the most used social networking platform.

Search Engine data also indicated that Online Retail Websites like Amazon, Jumia, MyShopify, led with 26% as the most searched items on the web, and TV Shows/ Films with 24%.

Back here at home (Uganda), the growth was equally drastic, as a country, internet users were up by +14%, an addition of 1.5Million was realized between the period of January 2020- January 2021, and over +900,000 social media users were recorded.

This, therefore, means, that last year alone, the number of internet users worldwide shot up drastically; and as the saying goes – “with great power comes great risks and responsibility.” Implying that, with the numbers going up, this called upon users, and agencies/ companies to be cautious on how they use the internet as it’s supposed to be for pleasure, work, recreation, and not pose any harm.

 

Knowledge about Cyber/ Online Security saves one from potential risks such as; hackers, information leakages and loss, virus attacks, data breaches.

As part of our drive to empower internet users, here are a few tips on how to stay safe as you use the internet:

  • Do use complex and strong passphrases for passwords.
  • Where possible, enable a two-factor authentication so as to protect logins
  • Always have a backup of your data/ important files and information.
  • Avoid clicking links, later on downloading files from untrusted sources.