More South Africans prefer to do their festive shopping online to avoid the mall rush, but this spike in online shopping marks ideal hunting ground for cyber criminals. File Photo: IOL

Cape Town - An increase in online shopping marks an ideal hunting ground for cybercriminals, experts have warned.

According to IT group Dimension Data, consumers who are doing their festive shopping online could risk losing up to R70 000 per incident to cybercrime.

Research by Barclays shows that more than a quarter of all online scams in the UK occur over the Christmas period, while Threat Metrix said there were over 50 million global cyber attacks during the 2017 holiday season. 

Statistics show that trends on local shores are much the same. According to the SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric), South Africa has the third highest incidence of cybercrime worldwide, losing about R2.2 billion a year to cyber attacks. 

According to Dialdirect Insurance head Maanda Tshifularo, cybercriminals take the holiday season seriously and prepare well in advance for their online shopping sprees. “The reasons are easy to understand. There is an increase in online shopping, meaning an increase in credit card and other personal information available for stealing.  

“Criminals take advantage of shoppers who throw caution to the wind and click on links that promise never-to-be-seen-again deals. Click the link and you’ve downloaded malicious software. Your computer or phone is now compromised by criminals,” Tshifularo said.

“Although vigilance is key in preventing and limiting these attacks, and cyber security is constantly evolving to address the ever-changing methods of cyber attack, having adequate cyber insurance in place is imperative in a technologically booming South Africa,” he added.

“The cost of what cybercriminals steal could run into tens of thousands, if not more. Add to that the legal fees to recover what is yours, and you could be facing an astronomical bill.

“It’s wise to not only be vigilant with your online shopping this festive season, but to also have sufficient cover in place should a cybercriminal decide to shop from your pocket,” he said.

@JasonFelix

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Cape Argus