Pieter Nel, country manager for IT Security company Sophos. Photo: Supplied
DURBAN - Facebook recently revealed that an “advanced cyber actor” had been spying on some users of its ridiculously popular WhatsApp messaging app.

Due to this, thousands of users of the popular messaging app had to update their WhatsApp to the latest version

Business Report spoke with Pieter Nel, country manager for IT Security company Sophos about the WhatsApp attack and ways in which people can protect themselves. 

According to Nel, there are two ways that people can become vulnerable to a cyber attack. 

They first way that people can be attacked is through their computer or your online accounts. An example of this malware or phishing emails. 

Nel also said that cyber criminals can also attack a company you've shared your data with, probably along with lots of other people, and steal your data indirectly.

Nel offers the following tips on how people can protect themselves from a cyber attack:

1. Pick proper passwords. Never use the same password for two different accounts - if the crooks crack one password they immediately try it on all your other accounts. Use a password manager to help you get it right.

 2.  Prefer 2FA. 2FA  is short for two-factor authentication, where you receive a text with a 'magic code' in it every time you login, or run an app to generate a one-time code. It's 2 percent more hassle for 98 percent more safety - the crooks can't just steal your password  and use it for as long as they like.

3. Patch early, patch often. Don't leave your device sitting with security holes that everyone knows about and that anyone could try to exploit, because someone surely will!

4. Uninstall apps you aren't using. Whether it's a mainstream app like WhatsApp or a special-interest app such as a game - the more apps you have, the more bugs you might be exposing to the crooks, so reduce what the jargon calls your 'attack surface area'.

5. If in doubt, don't give it out! If you never share it in the first place, it's can't get leaked by anyone else.

Nel concluded by saying that people can protect themselves by not giving out their personal data. He said that people should n ever feel forced to share information that they prefer to keep private, unless they have a legal need to comply. 

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE