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

Durban - 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. Consumers doing their festive shopping online could be at risk of losing up to R70 000 per incident to cyber crime according to IT group, Dimension Data.

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 over the 2017 holiday season. Trends on local shores are much the same: 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. 

 According to Maanda Tshifularo, Head of Dialdirect Insurance, cyber criminals 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.  

How to protect yourself against cyber crime:  

  • 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.
 

“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," Tshifularo said.

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