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File Image: IOL

This is the new normal when it comes to trading due to Covid-19

By Opinion Time of article published Sep 7, 2020

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In a changing world, business owners need to change the way they do things. As lockdown measures ease and businesses start to trade again, the way in which we engage with each other and do business has changed fundamentally as well. Social distancing and connecting virtually have become the new norm.

Nedbank Business Banking, together with leading subject matter experts, hosted a webinar on 9 July that unpacked how businesses should be trading in the new normal, while growing their business in the digital world.

The global crisis brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed business further into a digital world, and changes in behaviour are likely to have lasting effects when the economy starts to pick up. Yesterday’s big kings of online delivery may now be struggling to compete against the local butcher who has started home deliveries. Personal touch has disappeared, and while the opportunities are big, so are the risks.

According to Terence Govender, Director of Mazars Advisory, the boom in digital transformation has brought on a spike in cybercrime. 'Hackers steal more than 75 records every second (the average cost of a stolen record on the black market is R3 000) and hack 30 000 websites a day, while 24% of data breaches are because of human error, phishing or business process errors.'

The increase in cybercrime is a direct result of the lockdown, as unprecedented numbers of people are now working from home. 'Few organisations have catered or prepared for this type of scenario in their business continuity planning and while most have disaster recovery sites, they certainly did not anticipate that their entire business would be working from home for an extended period. This has made their employees and therefore their business vulnerable to cybercrime, as people are more relaxed at home than at work,' says Govender.

'To limit cyberattacks, business owners must ensure work laptops have up-to-date antivirus software and that scanning of USB ports are enabled. Virtual private network (VPN) and two-factor authentication (2FA) must be enabled and, where possible, businesses should use hard disk encryption with maximum password requirements. In addition, remote-work security policies are vital. Also, remind staff to change passwords according to the password policy, but do not extend the period of password changes from say 30 to 90 days.'

In addition to following security protocols, business owners and employees should also be aware of malware and phishing attacks that are rife at the moment.

According to Herman de Kock, Nedbank Business Banking Executive Head for Business Banking Sales and Service, businesses and employees should be more alert than ever before. 'Some of the latest scams include fraudsters prompting you to click on a link in an email or SMS by sending you a fake bank statement or proof of payment. They then claim that your account will be blocked if you fail to do so. Sometimes, they even impersonate bank employees, asking for personal information such as your profile number, PIN and password, claiming that fraud has been detected on your account.'

De Kock emphasises the importance of using banking-appropriate solutions to monitor account-related activities and minimise malware attacks, phishing attempts and fraud.

'By using solutions such as Nedbank’s final transaction information (FTI) you will have a much better view of the final transactions that have been processed on your accounts and appear on your bank statements. Our account verification service (AVS) enables you to verify upfront whether an account indeed belongs to an individual or a company, reducing the risk of unpaid payments and fraudulent redirection of money.'

But he warns to be safe and vigilant. 'If you get a suspicious email, hover your mouse over the hyperlink to see the actual URL and make sure it is the real thing. Never give anyone your credit card details or online banking PIN and password or ID details. Always read your Approve-it messages carefully before accepting them and never share a one-time password (OTP) with anyone. And if you have a banking app on your mobile device and it is lost or stolen, report it immediately for deactivation.'

De Kock says that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a disruption and recession of global proportions, but it has also unleashed waives of innovation while we all change the way we work, shop, eat, trade, learn and travel. 'Business owners who adapt to these changes in human behaviour are the ones who will grow.'


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