“Before there would be spelling mistakes; now there are good-quality falsifications, which makes it hard to tell if it is a scam.
“The types of cyber attacks are more sophisticated.
"There has been an increase in cyber crime and the value of money taken has also increased,” said managing director Danny Myburgh, from Cyanre Digital Forensic Lab.
IT group Dimension Data said consumers doing their festive shopping online could be at risk of losing up to R70000 per incident to cyber crime.
ThreatMetrix, which helps businesses to prevent online fraud, said there were more than 50million global cyber attacks last year over the holiday season.
Myburgh added there were increases in cyber crime over long weekends and the festive season.
This is mostly done by hacking and malware, where a computer is encrypted and the criminal attempts to extort money from you in order to get the encryption key.
The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) said in a press statement that South Africa has the third highest number of cyber crime victims worldwide, losing about R2.2bn a year to cyber attacks.
Kalyani Pillay, Sabric's chief executive, said criminals were very skilled at using social engineering to manipulate their victims into divulging their personal or confidential information.
"They capitalise on the fact that not all digital banking clients are digitally literate, and exploit this vulnerability. Using technology, coupled with social engineering, criminals can gather sufficient information to impersonate victims, bypassing bank security protocols.”
One of the modus operandi used by criminals is to play on the victim's fear and send them an email that appears to be from their bank, stating that a fraudulent transaction has been made.
The victim is then given the opportunity to report the fraud by clicking on a link.
When clicking on links in these phishing emails, the victim is taken to a fraudulent website under the control of the criminal, and any information entered on this page, such as a banking profile username or password, is sent to the criminal.
Once they have viewed your profile, and find that there is money to be accessed, they will commit fraud on your internet banking account, explained Sabric in a statement.
“Sabric is working closely with the SAPS and mobile network operators to address this scourge,” said Pillay.
Maanda Tshifularo, the head of Dialdirect Insurance, added that although vigilance was key in preventing and limiting these attacks, and cyber security was constantly evolving to address the ever-changing methods of cyber attack, having adequate cyber insurance in place was imperative.
“The cost of what cyber criminals steal could run into tens of thousands of rand, if not more.
“Add to that the legal fees of recovering what is yours, and you could be facing an astronomical bill," Pillay noted.
"It's wise not only to be vigilant with your online shopping this festive season but also to have sufficient cover in place should a cyber criminal decide to shop from your pocket.”