While the national lockdown should go a long way to slowing the spread of COVID-19 across the country, the fact that many housebound South Africans are spending more time than usual on their digital devices, means it’s more important than ever before to protect yourself from the risks of computer viruses and cybercrime.
Anton De Wet, Chief Client Officer for Retail & Business Banking at Nedbank, recommends a number of cyber health tips that are well worth implementing if you’re banking, working or just spending time online.
“Hackers and cyber-criminals typically become more active when there is an increased dependence by people on digital tools,” De Wet explains. “However, just as practicing good hygiene is key to avoiding COVID-19, practicing good cyber hygiene is also the best way of preventing any form of infection or attack on your digital devices.”
De Wet cautions that the best way to avoid these criminal efforts is to make sure you are only using valid and verified online sources for your COVID-19 updates. “It’s important to be especially cautious of any websites that require you to register before sharing information with you, or that claim to be delivering essential items during the lockdown period,” De Wet says, “while there are many legitimate sites, a global crisis like the one we’re currently experiencing almost always results in an increase in fake websites simply to prey on people’s fears and information needs.”
De Wet recommends that South Africans be especially vigilant when it comes to emails that claim to be from people or organisations they may know.
“Nedbank will never ask its clients to click on links or open attachments in emails,” he explains, “and everyone should be extra cautious of any email containing links that claim to take them to official login pages or any websites where they need to enter their personal details.”
De Wet also highlights the fact that not all remote crime attempts take place on our computers. “There’s a good chance that fraudsters will try to capitalise on this period by calling you and using false claims of activity on your account, to get you to share your personal or banking details. The simple rule of thumb should be to never share your information over the phone and treat every call asking you to do so with suspicion until you can verify the caller.”
He offers a number of other useful cyber safety tips to survive the lockdown, cybercrime free:
- Don’t share your bank login details or card information with anyone online or over the phone.
- Be especially aware of fraudsters impersonating your bank’s fraud department, the police or Microsoft and trying to trick you by saying you’ve already been defrauded into providing them with your personal, digital banking or card details. Do not allow them to access your computer remotely.
- Enable multi-factor authentication on any apps that allow it. Make use of a reputable Virtual Private Network (VPN) or use the one provided by your employer, to protect your online activity from prying eyes.
- Only use your work-provided technology for work-related tasks. Often, work equipment has various security protocols installed that are not on your personal devices.
- If you have extra time on your hands, don’t be tempted to visit illegal torrent sites to download pirated movies or TV shows. These are often a front for malware and viruses.
- Make sure you have a secure, long password on your router and home wi-fi network. And avoid reusing the same password across multiple devices and secure websites.