By Andries Wiese, National Business Development Manager for Hollard Insure.
Cybercriminals show no ethical boundaries and will attack wherever there is a vulnerability. They are organised and operate much like “real” businesses. Hackers are indiscriminate and no matter your industry or size you are exposed. No security is infallible, and even the large technology vendors admit that their solutions are not a silver bullet for hacking.
According to the Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2021, businesses targeted by cybercriminals in the past year increased from 38% to 43%, with over a quarter of those targeted (28%) experiencing five attacks or more. Those attacks are pushing many firms to the brink, with one in six businesses attacked (17%) saying the financial impact materially threatened the company’s future.
Cybercrime is on the rise and South Africa is not immune. It has now been more than a year since pandemic-related restrictions began and South Africans have become used to a working-from-home environment. This brought increased reliance on technology and greater use of at-home devices and connectivity. Not only are individual households more exposed but it has become very hard for companies to appreciate their own risk, in many cases simply because they cannot gauge the extent of their own exposure. Pleading ignorance or maintain an ostrich mentality is not going to help anybody: The crisis is not over anywhere until it is over everywhere.
Farmers are surprisingly adept at adopting new technologies and often take the lead. For many years they have made use of electronic trading platforms and on-site technology. Darren McGraw, president of Mechelsen Private Client, says cybercriminals tend to target these types of clients because they typically have a faster and broader adoption rate of technology, meaning they have more windows into their cyber lives than those with a different profile who may be slower to adopt expensive technology.
The Insurance Journal reports that Hayden Kopser, co-founder and president of North Improvement, points out that the main threat he is seeing is “funds transfer fraud, which involves the unlawful taking of funds from a victim’s account, and social engineering-related financial loss, in which methods are used to manipulate or trick individuals into giving away sensitive information or funds.”
So, what is one to do? No measure is infallible but there are a few basic precautions to help safeguard your cyber world:
Do not disclose personal information such as passwords and PINs when asked to do so by anyone via telephone, fax, or even email
When destroying personal information, either shred or burn it
Do not carry unnecessary personal information in your wallet or purse.
Store personal and financial documentation safely. Always lock it away (e.g. passports)
Do not write down PINs and passwords and avoid obvious choices like birth dates and first names.
Do not use Internet Cafes or insecure WiFi (hotels, conference centres, etc.) to do your banking
Use strong passwords for all your accounts
Change your passwords regularly and never share them with anyone else.
Verify all requests for personal information and only provide these when there is a legitimate reason to do so.
Make sure a website is encrypted before you use it for a financial transaction. Typically, you’ll see a picture of a lock in the URL field, and the URL will contain “HTTPS”, meaning it’s secure
Teach your children about safe internet behaviors — including how to spot potential scams and phishing attempts
Alert the SA Fraud Prevention Service immediately on 0860 101 248 or at safps.org.za if your ID documents are lost or stolen – register for credit and identity theft monitoring and obtain a case number from SAPS
The loss of data and the monetary implications of scams are enormous. It no longer is possible for any farmer or businessman to steer clear of this risk. The important thing to remember is that you cannot pass the buck: you remain the custodian of your data and if anything seems too good to be true it probably is NOT TRUE!
This article was originally published on COVER magazine’s website