April Fool’s Day is a day celebrated annually by jokesters all around the world. It is a day for practical jokesters to reign havoc on friends, family, and unsuspecting bystanders. It is believed that April Fool’s Day originated in Britain at the beginning of the 18th century, and since then has been a day adored by those who enjoy pranking others. We all know how it goes: we’re made to believe something utterly outrageous, someone yells “April Fool’s”, and then we all have a good laugh. Even Google has been known to pull the odd prank on this “holiday”.

This April Fool’s Day don’t let the joke be on you. Now is the perfect time to review your safety and security settings to avoid hackers making you look like a fool.

A typical smartphone contains a large amount of personal information, such as banking details, full names, email addresses, phone contact details, passwords, and personal images and videos. In 2021, over 36 million South Africans accessed the internet using a mobile device, meaning over half the population have used online facilities in the past year. Despite our reliance on our devices, a lot of us aren’t using them safely.  

The first step in device security is locking your home screen. Many users do not protect their device with any form of lock and leave themselves wide open to data breaches if anyone else were to get their hands on their phone. While we do have access to facial recognition, it isn’t always entirely reliable. Using a passcode or pin to unlock your device is a good start, but to ensure that nobody is ever able to gain access to your device, you should use a strong and unique password or passphrase. Creating a strong password can be as easy as remembering a famous quote or the title of your favourite book.

Just like your password is the first step to keeping your data safe, two-factor authentication is the second step. Although it may seem tedious, it is worth it to enable two-factor authentication, or 2FA, to protect all your online accounts. Enabling 2FA will add an extra step in the login process to confirm your identity. After you’ve input your long, strong, and unique password, you’ll be asked to verify the login by another means. It will also notify you when someone else is trying to log into your accounts, as you will have to perform an action through your second form of authentication, such as a confirmation message being sent to your email, or a login pin being sent to your phone number.

It’s so easy to just ignore software updates because they’re annoying and always pop up when you’re in the middle of something, however, updating your devices to their latest operating system could save you from your phone being hacked and your data being stolen.

Even if you’re not worried about forgetting your passwords, it’s always a good idea to keep them stored in an encrypted vault or password manager. All this requires is one “master password” which allows you to keep and access all your passwords for all your accounts in one place. Apps like LastPass are free and very reliable.

Keep yourself, your device, and all your data protected by using simple yet effective security measures this April Fool’s Day and every other day of the year.