As digital consumers, we use the internet every day in order to access social media, do personal or business banking, book a holiday, and get the latest updates on news and sporting events. We perform so many tasks using the internet, believing that it is safe, that we tend to neglect the security and preventative measures to lock out phishing scams and cyber criminals.
Cybercrime is broadly defined by tech company, Symantec, as any offence that is committed using a computer, network or hardware device. It is not a new occurrence, but its scope is constantly evolving. Once cyber criminals have your personal details, they gain access to an abundance of information that will allow them to clone just about any account that is tied to you. This includes: credit cards, investment bonds, personal savings accounts, as well as cheque accounts. The list does not stop there as your entire identity can be stolen within seconds.
Back in September 2013, the Hawks blew the lid on a cross-continental syndicate that had stolen close to R15 million from South Africans in a complex web of identity thefts and SIM swaps. The syndicate cleared R6.6 million from 21 accounts in a single day. They then stole an additional R3.1 million from 30 bank accounts shortly after the initial theft.
Last year, Captain Oscar Mopedi arrested a man suspected of identity theft. This arrest lead to the discovery of the syndicate. Upon detaining the suspect, Mopedi’s keen instincts assisted him in obtaining more evidence, which later revealed the identities and contact details of known syndicate members. According to Mopedi, this was one of the largest and most sophisticated cons he has had to deal with during his career.
According to Kaspersky, Algeria is leading in Africa in terms of cybercrime and web threats ahead of Egypt, South Africa and Kenya.
In order to prevent cybercrime IT News Africa has come up with 8 tips to avoid cybercrime:
Constantly update passwords and login details
By changing your login details, at least once or twice a month, you can cut down your chances of being a target of cybercrime.
A secure computer will deter cyber criminals
Always be sure to activate your firewall settings. Furthermore, installing anti-virus and anti-spyware software will protect your computer from various forms of malware, viruses, Trojan horses and other malicious software used to obtain your personal details.
Be social media savvy
Make sure your social networking profiles (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MSN, etc.) are set to private. Check your security settings. Be careful what information you post online. Once it is on the Internet, it is extremely difficult to remove.
Secure mobile devices
More often than not, we leave our mobile devices unattended. By activating the built-in security features you can avoid any access to personal details. Never store passwords, pin numbers and even your own address on any mobile device.
Protect your Data
Use encryption for your most sensitive files such as tax returns or financial records, make regular back-ups of all your important data, and store it in a different location.
Be aware of what you do while using public Wi-Fi Hotspots
While these access points are convenient, they are far from secure. Avoid conducting financial or corporate transactions on these networks.
Protect your e-identity
Be cautious when giving out personal information such as your name, address, phone number or financial information on the Internet. Make sure that websites are secure (e.g. when making online purchases) or that you’ve enabled privacy settings (e.g. when accessing/using social networking sites).
Avoid being scammed
Always think before you click on a link or file of unknown origin. Don’t feel pressured by any emails. Check the source of the message. When in doubt, verify the source. Never reply to emails that ask you to verify your information or confirm your user ID or password.