A week like this is the delight of any columnist; there’s simply a lavish banquet of hot topical issues to choose from. Coming into the weekend after the gubernatorial elections, choosing to discuss technology, politics of card readers, electoral violence and the prospects of electronic voting, you won’t be getting anything wrong. However several incidences from the previous week will also be competing for my attention within the previous week. Is it the rumoured acquisition of Visafone by MTN or the one that LinkedIn is acquiring the giant online learning platform, Lynda? I also thought about weighing on the resurgence of ATM hackers and how people need to stay and keep vigilance while using ATMs and other electronic payment systems. It is interesting how scammers are evolving new methods and tactics to keep cyber-security experts busy and in business. However, two that touches my heart and that of everyone if I cherry pick; the case of the one young hippie guy who got killed while enjoying music blasting through his earphones and dead to the calls everyone were making for him to get out of the way off the rail track of the train that eventually killed him; and the case of the family mourning hiring a housemaid off the online classified website, OLX. The internet is awash with stories of Facebook love turning into gang rapes and kidnapping, people who fall into the hands of scammers online and essentially get to lose monies and funds
Is there something OLX is doing wrong? No. All across the world, people have always latched unto to technology to do evil. Even across the world online classifieds like Craigslist and social networking websites like Badoo and even Facebook have continued to deal with the challenge of dealing with people who use the platform for some other pecuniary interests. However, it does not matter the ways digital technology has changed the way we live and do businesses, the way we do basic things that simply do not change. As startups continue to create online social networks and platforms where people can easily post up items for sale, job openings, cars, apartment vacancies, or just market places where potential buyers can shop online, there is little they can do to protect purchasers when buyers consciously put themselves in the line of harm. However internet scammers will continue to find clever ways around these issues and measures put in place by the owners of the online platforms including massive PR campaign and advertising may not just enough, people going online must remain street smart. Here are my quick advice for staying safe, sane and secure while online and connected to digital tools.
If it is too good to be true, it is
While most people have great stories about doing business with people they have never met physically, people will play on that to try to defraud you. Most online scam succeed because they play on one human vice: greed. If you find the offer of something that has incredible benefits and profits. That people still use custom officers’ pictures to promote fake car auctions is proof that it is still working for them. Most times simple interrogation or asking more probing questions and verification will reveal the real intentions of the person selling online. It does not matter how juicy the offer is retain the sense to walk away from it if you suspect foul play. A simple Google check on any of the seller’s information can also help you a lot. If someone has been a seller of top bargains for a while, isn’t it strange they have less than 20 friend son Facebook? Simple food for thought.
Always let common sense prevail
Earphones by default comes in pairs and that is because we have two ears, it doesn’t mean you have to use both at the same time. I have personally witnessed at least three incidents where people with earphones were pushed out of the way of rail tracks. Health and Safety experts advice that when working in factories, driving, in the office or walking on the road, leave one ear off to stay connected with your physical environment.
In matters of dealing with financial transactions don’t trust people by default and being friends with someone on social media is a best a virtual paper not reality. Trusting people you have never met physically should be the exception not the norm. I have met people who left their houses to go into another state to visit a Facebook friend only to lightly escape with scary stories to tell.
Before your love goes private, make it public
Always complete your transactions in public. Even when it comes to love and friendships relationships, stolen love is sweet but when it goes bad, it goes public. There are a lot of online love and chats going on social media and sexual predators, internet scammer, kidnappers, are learning the art of using the search for live to perpetuate their crimes. Before you try to meet anyone you have never met in private, please meet in the public first. When meeting people in public, insist on meeting in a public location where there are people, not just a corner street but stores, supermarkets, or restaurant. Avoid their homes and private places. If you give anyone an appointment to come to your house, they now know where you live even when you know nothing about them. Even meeting in public there is a basic safety rule, don’t be the lame duck. This is the term used for the first person to get to a meeting point while the other person has the vantage position of observation and analysis. Being street smart means you are able to make judgements that you do not put you and your loved ones in danger.
When people ask for my advice on dealing with internet security, though I am not cyber security expert, I simply say, be paranoid. If you feel a bit uncomfortable doing anything, don’t force yourself into it and you can walk away at any point no matter how long and deep you dealing have been. The internet is shifting and changing many thing and you need to be safe, sane and smart to remain on the right side of making history.