A screen displays a prompt that pops up after installing iOS 13.2 on an iPhone on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, in New York. Apple is resuming the use of humans to review Siri commands and dictation on an opt-in basis with the latest update of its iOS mobile operating system. Users can’t start using Siri unless they answer the prompt. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

JOHANNESBURG - South African mobile users should expect renewed unauthorised micro-billing attacks as overseas-based fraudsters look to the country's 90 million plus mobile connections with growing interest, cloud communications software and solutions provider IMImobile warned on Thursday.

The Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (WASPA) has worked hard to create a local mobile ecosystem where cellular users feel confident transacting with providers of mobile content and applications, but the first line of defence against mobile fraud should be the users themselves, IMIMobile SA chief creative and operations officer Devon Meerholz said.

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Meerholz said mobile users should minimise the financial damage caused by unauthorised billing attempts emanating from overseas-based criminal syndicates and should consider switching to prepaid cellular service to prevent unexpected postpaid mobile bills at month-end.

"Mobile users should become aware of what’s happening on your mobile device at all times by switching on app push notifications, signing up for SMS billing notifications from your network operator and checking your messaging inboxes for alerts at least once a day," he said.


"If you must link a bank card to your chosen app stores, make sure it’s a credit or debit card with either a very low credit limit or with none at all. You could consider reserving a low-cost, zero credit limit bank account for mobile-based purchases."

He said when downloading mobile apps from Android or Apple app stores, mobile users should carefully read what permissions were required and look out for particularly suspicious permissions such as those requiring access to one’s mobile contacts.

They must also learn how to quickly disable their mobile device’s Internet access in a matter of seconds in the event of being hijacked by malware or ransomware.

"Similarly, practice removing your SIM card from the device as a fast way to prevent unauthorised access while you are deciding on a plan of action," he said.

“Ultimately, our best defence against mobile and real-world fraudsters will always be our own common sense."

- African News Agency (ANA)