Cyber fraud is on the rise: How to keep your money and data safe

Cybercrime continues to evolve with new threats surfacing every year. The pandemic is now creating even more victims as cybercriminals aim to capitalise on the economic upheaval.

CYBER FRAUD: HERE IS HOW TO KEEP YOUR MONEY AND DATA SAFE

Use a full service internet security suite


An internet security suite provides real time protection against existing and emerging malware including ransomware and viruses, and helps protect your private and financial information when you go online.

Use strong passwords


Don't repeat your passwords on different sites, and change your passwords regularly. Make your passwords complex. This means using a combination of at least 10 letters, numbers, and symbols. A password management application can help you to keep your passwords locked down.

Keep your software updated


This is especially important with your operating systems and internet security software. Cybercriminals frequently use known exploits or flaws in your software to gain access to your system. Patching those exploits and flaws can make it less likely that you will become a cybercrime target.

Strengthen your home network


It's a good idea to start with a strong encryption password as well as a virtual private network. A VPN will encrypt all traffic leaving your devices until it arrives at its destination. If cybercriminals do manage to hack your communication line, they won't intercept anything but encrypted data. It's a good idea to use a VPN whenever you use a public Wi-Fi network, whether it's in a library, café, hotel, or airport.

Keep up to date on major security breaches


If you do business with a merchant or have an account on a website that's been impacted by a security breach find out what information the hackers accessed and change your password immediately.

Card payment in a restaurant


The most common type of cyber fraud happens when you make payment in a restaurant through a debit/credit card. Instead of giving away the card to waiter, ask him/her to bring the machine to your table to make payment so that you have a fair idea of where your card is being used.

Those messages are fraud


We keep receiving messages saying your bank account has been credited with large sum of money, provide your account details to receive the payment. Avoid falling into such traps as they are mostly fake and can wipe out all the money from your account.

Look out for genuine websites


One foolproof way to keep your personal information safe from hackers is to double check the websites you use whether it's for online shopping, checking emails or chatting with friends online. Make sure there are no obvious spelling mistakes in the URL or otherwise.


If in doubt, try to verify the site's legitimacy through a quick Google search. Often some online cross checking, or a phone call to an organisation's official phone number is enough.

Always looking for weak points


Cybercriminals often try a broad approach, sending the same malicious email to hundreds of thousands of people in the hope someone will fall into the trap. And someone usually does. All it takes to steal identity details is a fake email or web page that looks trustworthy enough to dupe you into sharing your information.

Regularly check all financial statements


Regularly check all financial statements including bills. If you see a transaction you don't remember making block your bank cards and inform your bank immediately.

Verify information and report


If anything doesn't seem right, always report it to the relevant authorities so others don't fall victim. Cybercrime victims should always be empowered to report fraud as this is the first step to potentially getting your money back.

Double factor authentication


Requiring double factor authentication throughout the process of submitting an application online would also be helpful.


This content has been created as part of our freelancer relief programme. We are supporting journalists and freelance writers impacted by the economic slowdown caused by #lockdownlife.


If you are a freelancer looking to contribute to The South African, read more here.