As digital consumers, we use the internet every day in order to access social media, do personal or business banking, book a holiday, and get the latest updates on news and sporting events. We perform so many tasks using the internet, believing that it is safe, that we tend to neglect the security and preventative measures to lock out phishing scams and cyber criminals.

Bitcoin is now worth more than gold, and internet banking and mobile money usage globally has rocketed by 34% in the past six years. One thing has outpaced this growth, however: the rate of online fraud.

Cyber fraud is growing even faster than the move to digital.

The same online fraud trends we are seeing in the US and UK are applicable in South Africa.

Cybercrime had affected 8.8 million South Africans in the past year and was costing the economy an estimated ZAR 3 billion a year.

In South Africa, we don’t yet have the legislative framework to deal with cybercrime. We have the Cyber Crime and Security Bill but it is not yet in effect. But dealing with cybercrime is not only about the legislative framework; it is also about capacitation and implementation.

One of the biggest risks facing all companies, large and small, is pressure from consumers for real-time transactions. While traditional fraud is local, slow, methodical and manual, online fraud is global, real-time, changing and automated.

South African business owners need to understand that cybersecurity is not just a technical consideration, but an enterprise-wide risk that needs to be addressed at board level.

8 Tips to prevent cybercrime:

  1. Constantly update passwords and login details
  2. A secure computer will deter cyber criminals
  3. Be social media savvy (Make sure your social networking profiles (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MSN, etc.) are set to private. Check your security settings. Be careful what information you post online. Once it is on the Internet, it is extremely difficult to remove.)
  4. Secure mobile devices (More often than not, we leave our mobile devices unattended. By activating the built-in security features you can avoid any access to personal details. Never store passwords, pin numbers and even your own address on any mobile device.)
  5. Protect your Data (Use encryption for your most sensitive files such as tax returns or financial records, make regular back-ups of all your important data, and store it in a different location.)
  6. Be aware of what you do while using public Wi-Fi Hotspots (While these access points are convenient, they are far from secure. Avoid conducting financial or corporate transactions on these networks.)
  7. Protect your e-identity (Be cautious when giving out personal information such as your name, address, phone number or financial information on the Internet. Make sure that websites are secure (e.g. when making online purchases) or that you’ve enabled privacy settings (e.g. when accessing/using social networking sites).
  8. Avoid being scammed (Always think before you click on a link or file of unknown origin. Don’t feel pressured by any emails. Check the source of the message. When in doubt, verify the source. Never reply to emails that ask you to verify your information or confirm your user ID or password.)