How to avoid cy­ber­scams

CityPress - - Tenders -

Jacky Fick, head of Cell C’s Foren­sic Ser­vices

Ev­ery few months, con­cerns about on­line scams and theft are raised as a new wave of vic­tims comes for­ward. It can leave one feel­ing vul­ner­a­ble and un­cer­tain. But a lit­tle knowl­edge goes a long way in this fight. Your phone can open a lot of doors for cy­ber­crim­i­nals. Once they have their hands on things like phone num­bers and home ad­dresses, they can find ways to hi­jack your fi­nan­cial ac­counts. Make sure you lock your phone with a pass­word, swipe ges­ture or finger­print reader. If the phone is stolen, it can be re­motely wiped and even dis­abled. This de­pends on the type of phone, but it can also be done with third party apps if they are in­stalled. A phish­ing email could of­fer sup­posed Lotto win­nings, un­claimed tax re­funds or a sur­prise in­her­i­tance. Phish­ing scams of­ten mimic banks: an SMS of­fer­ing a raise in a credit card limit or a for­mal email re­quest­ing an up­date of your de­tails. What­ever the mes­sage, the goal is to steal in­for­ma­tion by pos­ing as some­thing else. The first rule is that if you get an of­fer that seems too good to be true, it is. Al­ways be sus­pi­cious.

The se­cond rule is to check the source. If the mes­sage looks as if it came from a bank, call the bank.

Thirdly, never share per­sonal in­for­ma­tion with some­one who con­tacted you. If they called you, call back us­ing the of­fi­cial com­pany hot­line num­ber, not one they pro­vide. Don’t click on sus­pi­cious-look­ing links in emails or in­stant mes­sages. Delete them im­me­di­ately. In­sti­tu­tions such as banks will not re­quest per­sonal in­for­ma­tion in that way. They will ask that you visit a branch. You can­not add ben­e­fi­cia­ries or un­der­take cer­tain trans­fers with­out a phone to sup­ply one-time PINs or ap­proval. This is why SIM card swaps are so at­trac­tive to crim­i­nals; they rep­re­sent the keys to the city. The num­ber on a phone is based on the SIM card in­side. But that num­ber can be elec­tron­i­cally trans­ferred to another SIM. Any­one who has held on to their num­ber for sev­eral years will have used a SIM swap ser­vice. It’s a le­git­i­mate ser­vice, but can be ma­nip­u­lated to make an unau­tho­rised swap. This is of­ten done over the phone, when a crim­i­nal poses as the SIM card’s owner. It’s im­por­tant to know that SIM swaps hap­pen at an ad­vanced stage of the crime. If they are at­tempt­ing a SIM swap, it means they al­ready have in­for­ma­tion such as bank­ing de­tails. They may also have enough per­sonal in­for­ma­tion to try to get through the se­cu­rity ques­tions. This is why phish­ing is so dan­ger­ous.

Avoid in­stalling un­of­fi­cial apps. These can be used to sneak bad soft­ware on to your de­vice. Use the of­fi­cial app stores, where apps are checked and se­cure.

Ap­ply patches to soft­ware, par­tic­u­larly up­dates to your phone’s sys­tem. These of­ten con­tain fixes for prob­lems that crim­i­nals could use to ac­cess your in­for­ma­tion.

Email is not the only dan­ger. Any type of link or file at­tach­ment can be dan­ger­ous. If you re­ceive of­fers or re­quest for in­for­ma­tion over SMS, What­sApp, MMS or other means, don’t click on any link it con­tains. Delete the mes­sage in­stead.

Take care with pub­lic Wi-Fi and un­se­cured in­ter­net con­nec­tions. In­for­ma­tion sent over these net­works can be in­ter­cepted.

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