World Password Day 2023

World Password Day is observed on May 4 this year, and it is a day when people are reminded of the importance of strong passwords in protecting their online accounts. With the increase in cybercrime, it has become essential to secure our digital lives, and the first step towards achieving this is by having strong passwords. In this article, we will discuss the importance of password protection, the need for strong passwords, and tips for creating strong passwords.

Why is Password Protection Important?

Passwords are the primary line of defence against cybercriminals. They are the keys that unlock our online accounts, and if they are weak or compromised, our personal and financial information can be stolen. Password protection is essential because cybercrime is on the rise, and hackers are always looking for ways to steal our personal data. By using strong passwords and regularly changing them, we can make it difficult for hackers to gain access to our accounts.

Why Should We Have Strong Passwords?

The most common way that cybercriminals gain access to our accounts is by using brute force attacks. These attacks involve trying multiple combinations of usernames and passwords until they find the right one. If we use weak passwords, such as ‘12345’ or ‘password,’ it makes it easier for hackers to guess our passwords and gain access to our accounts. Therefore, it is essential to have strong passwords that are difficult to guess.

What Makes a Strong Password?

A strong password is a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. It should be at least 12 characters long and should not include any personal information such as your name or birthdate. Using a passphrase is also a great way to create a strong password. A passphrase is a sequence of words that are easy to remember but difficult for others to guess. For example, ‘correct horse battery staple’ is a strong password that is easy to remember.

Password Managing Apps

One of the challenges of having strong passwords is remembering them. It is not practical to have different passwords for all our accounts and remember them all. This is where password-managing apps come in. These apps store all our passwords in an encrypted format, making them difficult for hackers to steal. They also generate strong passwords for us and can autofill login forms, making it easier to access our accounts. Some popular password-managing apps include LastPass, Dashlane, and 1Password.

Top 5 Tips for Setting a Strong Password

  1. Use a passphrase: Instead of using a single word as your password, use a passphrase. A passphrase is a sequence of words that are easy to remember but difficult for others to guess.
  2. Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters: A strong password should have a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  3. Use different passwords for each account: Do not use the same password for all your accounts. If a hacker gains access to one of your accounts, they will have access to all your accounts if you use the same password.
  4. Avoid personal information: Do not use personal information such as your name, birth date, or address as your password.
  5. Use a password manager: Use a password manager to store all your passwords in an encrypted format. This will make it easier to remember your passwords and make them difficult for hackers to steal.

World Password Day is a reminder that password protection is essential in protecting our online accounts. Using strong passwords and regularly changing them can make it difficult for hackers to gain access to our accounts. It is also essential to use different passwords for each account and to avoid using personal information in our passwords. By following these tips, we can secure our digital lives and protect ourselves from cybercrime.

Safer Internet Day 2021: Learners struggling during the pandemic

More time online, less education, a problem for SA’s teens

Safer Internet Day is being celebrated in South Africa on Tuesday, February 9th, with the theme of bringing various stakeholders ‘Together For A Better Internet’. Humanity is at its most advanced point of access to smart technology, data, games, apps and social media platforms, which has accelerated many industries – like eCommerce, e-learning and streaming entertainment – by three to five years. But with so much additional time in lockdown, and out of schools, due to the pandemic, there remains a gaping hole in digital education to guide and protect kids online, some of whom are using devices for many more hours than they were a year ago.

South Africa’s leading Digital Life Skills expert, Dean McCoubrey from MySociaLife, questions whether education is doing all that it can.

He says, “Together for a better internet can be achievable if government and regulators work together with platforms to educate and protect children. But this is not even happening in most developed countries. The power of social platforms, and the failure to educate in digital citizenship, has placed the responsibility solely in the lap of parents, teachers, students, counsellors and mental health professionals to understand the extent of what children have to cope with and manage online, exacerbated by COVID-19. “Technology’s growth will not relent. Kids are using the internet more than ever before, so we will need to understand what they’re engaging with to support them.”

According to the App Annie Sate of Mobile Report 2021, casual games dominate downloads with the popularity of easy-to-use names like Among Us, ROBLOX and My Talking Tom Friends. Mobile gaming is on track to surpass $120 billion in consumer spending in 2021 — capturing 1.5x of the market compared to all other gaming platforms combined. Social media app, TikTok, with over 1.6bn downloads and 800m monthly active users sees over 1 billion video views per day.

McCoubrey believes in the power of technology and the positive benefits it can bring to our children’s digital potential, but he remarks that this can largely only be achieved when we provide them with an honest, relatable and balanced view of the prizes and pitfalls which exist in their life online. “We can show children more doors of opportunity after showing them how to become safer and smarter kids online. It leads to learning new skills, exploration and then excellence. It’s an opportunity for Africa to embrace digital literacy early.”

He adds, “For adults right now there is an overwhelming workload, as well as financial and health pressure at this time, but we will have to take ownership of the fact that we expect learners to navigate these complex devices and social media platforms, without providing them with a guide to navigate the content – and their emotional responses. It’s IQ meets EQ in a digital realm: DQ, or digital quotient.”

MySociaLife is an online life skills and digital citizenship program which operates in South African schools and provides an 8-module digital curriculum for Grade 4 to 11 students. The subjects covered include critical thinking, cyberbullying, digital identity, privacy, security, digital footprint (reputation), sexuality online and digital potential. The video is taught in schools via logging into a web-based learning management system (LMS) or also by instructors via webinars to students anywhere in the country.

McCoubrey adds that some of the schools he works with asked their students which of the 8 modules of the MySociaLIfe program they would first choose during lockdown, and 31% of the 265 respondents said mental health would be their first choice, while maintaining focus and attention would be their second preference at 22%, accounting for more than 50% of all feedback. “A lot is going on in kids’ lives, they are missing human interaction and engagement, and are exposed to a stream of negative news – understandably many choose to escape inside social media and games.”

Kids look incredibly competent online when they are using these devices and these platforms. But we can forget that, as human beings, we hide certain aspects of emotional distress, confusion, concern, or fear and anxiety, to avoid embarrassment because we experience shame or feel anxious and insecure.

“This makes it incredibly difficult for educators and parents to deduce if something a child has experienced online is indeed troubling them. That is why we need to equip these kids with coping tools and critical thinking skills to first avoid some of these risks. And secondly, to be able to apply coping and management skills to navigate this complexity, which includes communicating with parents. Safer Internet Day is incredibly important to raise awareness of what needs to be done to protect our kids. However, to truly achieve that goal, we have to accept that making the internet a better place can only be achieved in shared responsibility between our learners, our parents, our students, our mental health professionals, and of course, social media platforms, regulators and government. We have to be realistic that the latter will take time. In other words, it’s up to us – it takes a village to raise a child,” he concludes.