Hotel giant Sun International has issued a warning about certain fraudulent Facebook and WhatsApp posts purportedly sponsored by the hotel group. Photo: Supplied
Cape Town - With an overall increase in the number of cyberattacks on individuals and organisations, hotel giant Sun International has issued a warning about certain fraudulent Facebook and WhatsApp posts purportedly sponsored by the hotel group.

Chief operating officer Thabo Mosololi said the posts were created by individuals claiming to offer extraordinary and fictitious returns for money invested in an alleged investment scheme with similar characteristics to a Ponzi scheme.

“Individuals are invited to invest cash in amounts of between R1000 and in excess of R10000 for silver, gold, diamond or platinum-tiered investment vehicles, in return for which they’ll allegedly earn almost three times their original investment in under a month,” Mosololi said.

He said Sun International did not offer such a scheme, “which is patently false and clearly intended to defraud people”.

Cyber security expert, Professor Bruce Watson of the Information Science department at Stellenbosch University said creating awareness was not enough.

“We also need to urgently work on creating and providing better and more secure (software) systems, as well as update our legal systems - all of which are not easy challenges”.

Watson said more people and organisations were confronted with messages encouraging them to protect themselves against actions of cybercriminals within cyberspace.

“This is crucial, given the current increases in phishing attacks: sending emails purporting to be from reputable departments/companies, to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, or scam them.

“If an organisation’s systems are not adequately protected, they’re vulnerable to attacks whereby law-abiding citizens and business data may be exposed and exploited by cyber- criminals posing as banks or even government departments, resulting in unsuspecting citizens and business owners being defrauded through no fault of their own,” Watson said.

It was largely the private sector that seemed to be championing cyber- security awareness initiatives, with the South African government lagging behind, he said.

“As technology advances, more and more citizens will demand services that require the government to protect them from cyberattacks,” said Watson.

The recent breaches of the City of Joburg’s and some banks’ networks highlighted the very real threat of cybercrime for South African businesses, said Simon Colman, executive head of digital at SHA Specialist Underwriters.

Colman said despite widespread awareness that cybercrime was an emerging risk, there seemed little uptake in cyber insurance.

“However, a survey by SHA earlier in the year found that 20% of South African companies have fallen victim to an email scam at least once, and 54% have been threatened with litigation afterwards,” he said.

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Cape Argus