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Online festive shopping means more cybercrime attacks, warns insurance body

Date: November 30, 2021
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Suthentira Govender

With cyber attacks on the increase, the SA Insurance Association (SAIA) has warned consumers to exercise “extreme caution” while shopping online during the festive season.

The body said consumers should be on the lookout for fake sites which look like authentic companies, false deals with huge discounts or promotions and hoax calls claiming to be made from their bank.

"With many South Africans utilising online shopping ??" to avoid the risk of contracting the coronavirus and also taking advantage of the convenience of shopping from anywhere ??” this has exposed consumers to cybercrime attacks,” said Pamela Ramagaga of the SAIA.

"Criminals have also targeted those working from home where company IT security protection is not in place, leaving staff and companies exposed.

"During lockdown, cybercrime increased. The most common methods used were phishing, ransomware, spam and cyber bullying. Lately, cyber criminals have infiltrated WhatsApp numbers and are scamming unsuspecting individuals through the messaging app.

"The public should be vigilant and exercise caution, for instance [when] receiving unfamiliar emails with links and attachments, where the user will try opening the email attachment which may be infected with a virus. The virus has the potential to shut down entire systems.

"The holiday period is a gold mine for cyber criminals who see multiple opportunities to catch unaware shoppers, particularly online. Cybercriminals are ready to exploit blind spots during the festive season.”

Tips to avoid falling victim to holiday scams:

- Look at the website’s address, or URL. If it starts with “https” it is a secure site, because the "s" stands for secure.
- Look for grammar mistakes and see if there is contact information on the site. A phone number, address or other verifiable information can show it is a legitimate business.
- Be especially careful if you spot offers in your social media channels that look too good to be true. It’s most likely a trick, not a treat.
- Don’t wait for your statements to come at the end of the month. Go online regularly during the holiday season and look at electronic statements for your credit card, debit card and cheque accounts. Look for fraudulent charges, even originating from payment sites. Always keep track of your purchases online and you will know straight away if there are anomalies in your account.
- Use strong passwords that are a combination of upper-case and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols, for example [email protected]%. Most accounts require an eight-character password and 12 characters for email and financial accounts. Avoid using the same password for several different accounts.
- Use strong authentication tools such as two-factor authentication for key accounts like email, banking, and social media, especially if you are using your mobile devices.

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