21/04/2016. SABRIC CEO Kalyani Pillay briefs the media on how consumers can take care of their cyber security. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Pretoria - The South African Bank Risk Information Centre (Sabric) has warned bank customers to pay more attention to their mobile security.

With the increase in cyber crime, the organisation has warned that customers are increasingly at risk of falling prey to criminal activities. Sabric chief executive Kalayani Pillay said managing and protecting electronic devices such as cellphones, tablets and PCs is crucial in ensuring that the scourge of cyber crime is minimised.

Speaking to the media and banking representatives at the organisation’s offices in Midrand on Thursday, Pillay said online banking fraud was increasing due to phishing and malware attacks in the country. “Cyber crime costs South Africa around R1 billion a year.

"South Africa is one of the top targets for cyber crime in Africa due to its comparatively high levels of internet connectivity, resulting in a larger attack surface than many other nations on the African continent,” said Pillay.

The country’s wealth and particularly its high GDP per capita, compared to that of other nations in sub-Saharan Africa, made it attractive to cyber criminals, she said.

Online banking fraud increased especially because of the high levels of phishing and malware attacks targeting bank customers. “Spear phishing, targeting executives and senior management within corporates in order to facilitate the movement of large sums of money is prevalent,” said Pillay.

Banks continuously provided cyber security messages, but criminals were devising new ways to steal from customers, she said.

“As more bank consumers migrate to online banking platforms, the risk is that smartphones and hand-held devices are being compromised,” said Pillay.

Sabric was working closely with law enforcement agencies to ensure a holistic approach to fighting these crimes is adopted.

Meanwhile, Pillay also said Sabric had started a campaign, titled “Skelm”, to promote the notion of safety on the internet and to prevent banking fraud.

“The campaign will provide various platforms on social media for the public to share their own experiences of being scammed in order to empower one another,” Pillay said.

“Consumers must be aware of these risks and take steps to safeguard themselves.”

The campaign was also aimed at creating an awareness about the implications of lack of cyber security and to reduce banking crime in South Africa through awareness.

Pillay explained that the campaign was about creating cyber security consciousness. Sabric has also provided the following security tips for consumers:

Secure your smartphone by enabling the lock screen and use a pattern password or fingerprint screen lock.

Where possible don’t save any sensitive information and bank account details on your electronic devices.

Think before you download apps to your mobile or tablet devices.

Do not bypass built-in security measures by "rooting" your device.

Disable any wireless connection settings when you’re not using it.

And, disable your push notification settings on mobile devices if not needed.