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13% of SA users cover their webcams

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To protect their privacy, paranoid users are turning to a multitude of methods to keep their personal data away from prying eyes in the online world, including hiding their computers.

Yet multiple research studies from Kaspersky Lab shows that not enough users are aware of the risks, and those that are, use the wrong methods to stay safe online.

The research shows Internet users turning to a number of different methods to keep their privacy safe; and 13% of  South Africans admit that they cover up their webcam, in an attempt to protect their privacy. Useful in itself, it’s important to recognise that covering a webcam cannot prevent audio interception and protect users from being listened to by hackers or malicious groups.

Meanwhile, 34%  of Internet users locally store their sensitive data on devices that have no Internet access, mistakenly thinking that this will guarantee the protection of their data. However, although this theory is grounded in logic, and is essential for securing backup data from the effects of a ransomware attack, even without an Internet connection it is possible for a device to be infected via a connected smartphone or USB stick.

An additional 11% of those surveyed admitted that they try to avoid using popular web sites like Google and Facebook because of the personal information they gather, despite the fact that it is normal practice for almost all web sites to track users and collect some user data today.

Moreover, globally 8% of paranoid respondents admitted to hiding their computers from other people, even though this will not help protect them from Internet threats. But 7% also said they devote time to entering, then erasing credit card data when paying online, in an attempt to confuse viruses, despite the fact that malware, especially keyloggers, cannot be confused this way.

While some use these extreme, but inadequate methods, the statistics show that other Internet users are severely lacking in cyber-savviness. Only 26% locally said they feel targeted online and 16% said that they do not think a security solution is necessary, raising questions about their online awareness and ability to protect themselves from harm.

David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, says: “These findings demonstrate two extremes – on the one hand there are people who think they can keep their data safe by, for example, hiding their computers; but on the other hand there are still those who are simply not taking the necessary precautions online.

“People need to become more cyber-savvy – with today’s security solutions it’s possible to protect yourself from cyberthreats, without having to go to the extreme lengths of hiding a computer.”