The financial sector is where the money is so it stands to reason that it will experience the brunt of cybercrime. In the first 8 months of 2018, 13400 cybercrime incidents were reported to the SA Banking Risk Information Centre. This represents successful cybercrime attempts that were reported and does not include unsuccessful attempts or successful attempts not reported. The statistics are harrowing.

We have come a long way from pen and paper and embracing technology is inevitable. As new technologies surface, cybercriminals are working just as hard to exploit it resulting in a perpetual game of cat and mouse.

Organizations go to great lengths to secure their technology systems and oftentimes the safeguards are quite complex. This is only half the defense as effective cybersecurity should always have its roots in a partnership between an organization and its clients. Clients do not necessarily have the capacity or budget to employ complicated security mechanisms however the good news is that there are a few basic, easily achievable strategies that you could use to do your part.

Here are 10 tips to improve your cybersecurity front:

1. Passwords: Passwords should be reasonably complex, abstract, changed often and never shared with anyone. The same applies to usernames.

2. Public/ shared resources: Avoid using public or free Wi-Fi altogether and never use public computers (e.g. Internet cafes) to conduct any activity where you are required to supply a username and password.

3. Cell phones: Consider your cell phone as containing extremely confidential information about yourself. Make sure you have a lock screen enabled, encrypt it where possible, do not jailbreak or root it and install an antivirus. Losing your phone and the information stored on it can be devastating.

4. Phishing: Phishing emails are designed to coax you into clicking on links or divulging sensitive information leveraging the innate human traits of fear and curiosity. Do not click on any links in emails from people you do not
or emails that seem even remotely fishy.

5. Antivirus: There are many good quality free antivirus solutions on the market, ensure that you have one installed on your computer and make sure that it is regularly updated.

6. Don’t plug it in: Never insert any storage media (USB flash drive, DVD, memory card or even cell phone via a cable) that is not yours into your computer’s USB drive. You might be curious, but the flash drive you found in the parking lot may have been placed there on purpose, just waiting to install malware on your computer.

7. Requesting payments: Attackers can send you emails from email addresses of people that are known to you. If you receive an email from a family member pleading for an EFT due to an emergency, or a business partner needing an urgent payment made, rather call them in person and verify the legitimacy of the request. It may not be them.

8. Beware of social media: Social media is increasingly being used to target victims of cybercrime. You may receive a WhatsApp requesting money from a contact (whose sim card was swapped). You may receive a Facebook friend request from someone you don’t know, they are using your profile to gather information about you, in order to attempt to defraud you further down the line. Steer clear of unknown people on social media.

9. Encryption: Wherever possible encrypt your computer/ laptop’s hard drive. Should it ever get stolen you can rest assured that at least, the information on it cannot be deciphered. Windows 10 Pro has built-in encryption technology, Bitlocker, enable it.

10. Trust your instincts: If you have an uneasy feeling about an interaction, trust your instinct and step away.

Being aware of the dangers and taking some simple measures to safeguard ourselves is the best defense against cybercrime. Making it more difficult to be compromised could make the attacker move on to an easier target. Do your part, we do ours and together we can put up a united front against the scourge of cybercrime.