Johannesburg - South Africa is battling multiple challenges on many fronts; load shedding, unemployment, spiralling costs of living and violent crime.
But now there’s something else we have to deal with; the rise in cybercrime. As we report today, hacking and gaining unauthorised access to the information of companies is the second worst in Africa. Only Kenya beats us, while Zambia trails both.
It is easy to be blasé about cybercrime, especially when viewed with the contact of murder or gender-based violence. After all, no one dies. We shouldn’t laugh it off. There is no such thing as a victimless crime, and the victims of corporate crimes are invariably the ordinary people, the staff and the clients who all end up paying.
Cybercrime is on the increase thanks to the surge in remote work that forced so many of us to work from home. Logging in through VPNs has opened the floodgates of opportunity for unscrupulous criminals to get into companies, access intellectual property or just hack into payrolls. Another old favourite is phishing via email.
We all have to keep our eyes open – and we have to use our common sense. It doesn’t help if we put up physical walls to our homes but give the clues to our passwords on social media sites by answering silly quizzes that are actual algorithms. It certainly doesn’t help if we click on dodgy links on email or WhatsApp – especially if it’s the company email. And it doesn’t help either if the companies we work for skimp on buying the correct anti-virus software or properly licensed programmes.
We might not be able to stop the murders in this country, but we definitely can make a difference when it comes to cybercrime. We have to be vigilant and ensure those around us are too. It’s too late when our bank accounts are cleaned out.