South Africa has the third highest number of cyber crime victims worldwide, revealed the South African Banking Risk Information Centre. Photo: Kacper Pempel/Reuters
Cape Town - Every time you use your smartphone, log on to your computer, open an e-mail, in fact almost every time you engage with technology, you’re exposed to the risk of cyber crime

According to the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC), South Africa has the third highest number of cyber crime victims worldwide, losing about R2.2 billion a year to cyber attacks. 

The cyber threat landscape is vast and no one is immune. And it’s not just big businesses who are vulnerable to the growing incidence of cyber attacks. Individuals are regularly targeted too with crimes including:

Identity theft: where criminals obtain information about you to convince a bank or a customer service representative that they're you.

Phishing: where criminals attempt to trick unsuspecting individuals into clicking on a malicious URL or e-mail attachment to steal their login details which they can then use to gain unauthorised access to the victims' financial accounts.

Ransomware: where a hacker encrypts files on your computer. The only way to get the files back is to pay the hijacker in crypto currency, like Bitcoin.

“According to a report from cyber security firm Norton, globally, 978 million consumers were affected by cyber crime in 2017 stealing a total of $172 billion,” says Head of Dialdirect Insurance, Maanda Tshifularo.

"The losses were more than just financial - each victim of cyber crime spent, on average, nearly two working days dealing with the aftermath of the attack. The most common crimes were generally low-tech, such as attempts to trick individuals into revealing their personal information through bogus emails."

To protect yourself against cyber crime, Dialdirect offers the following advice:
  • Read about cybercrime. The more you know, the more likely you are to spot a con and the less likely you will fall for scams.
  • Don’t use your social media profiles to log in to other accounts.
  • Use strong passwords, with a variety of upper case and lower case letters, symbols, and numbers. Never write them down where other people can see them. You should also try to change them up every now and then.
  • Only use reputable online shopping sites. One thing you can do is look at the URL of the website. If it begins with “https” instead of “http” it means the site is secure. Also check with friends if they’ve heard of it or used it before.
  • Be extra cautious when using Wi-Fi hotspots. Some scammers falsify popular hotspots.
  • Don’t click on random links.
  • Use good quality security software and a firewall on your computer, and update them regularly.
  • To protect against identity theft, take care not to reveal too much about yourself on social media networks.
  • Back-up the data on your computer, daily.
  • Do not respond to random emails claiming that you have won a prize or inherited money.
  • Keep an eye on your monthly statements to identify unusual/unauthorised transactions or behaviours.
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Cape Argus

“We believe that what’s in your computer is just as valuable as the computer itself.  Why only insure the shell?” concludes Tshifularo.