Cybercrime is a top concern for the financial services industry, but the public should also remain vigilant about protecting their confidential information.

Nuno Duarte, Group Information Security Officer at Alexander Forbes, said IT security policies did not exist purely to make people’s lives more difficult.

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre’s inaugural digital banking crime statistics showed that in 2017, there were 13 438 incidents across banking apps, online banking and mobile banking which cost the industry more than R250,000,000 in gross losses. Incidents from January to August 2018, already show a 64% increase. “These statistics illustrate why digital banking security is a huge challenge for financial institutions,” Duarte said. “You are only as safe as your weakest link, and if you have colleagues who are not protecting themselves correctly, then they become the weak point, and that is a big risk.”

Criminal activities such as ‘phishing’, where fake websites are created to steal people’s personal details, as well as the more strategic ‘spear phishing’ in the form of email or electronic communications scams targeted towards a specific individual, organisation or business, are on the rise.

“Cloud is another word for internet and many people don’t realise the risks involved with using the cloud applications such as Gmail, Dropbox or Google apps. Using cloud based applications could be bad news if you don’t have the right security in place because the data used with these apps is stored in the cloud. If passwords are cracked, the information is breached.” Duarte said free cloud apps sometimes had low security, and should be used with caution. “Use different passwords across different sites. Protect your mobile device with a password and never copy sensitive information to them if they are not encrypted.”

Duarte offers the following tips to protect yourself online:

  • You will never be asked for personal or login details via email or phone
  • Don’t click on links asking for personal information, it may contain programmes designed to steal your data
  • Use different passwords for your private and work use.
  • Create passphrases that are not easy to decipher – the longer the better, using numbers and letters.
  • Verify suspicious emails or social media links by sending them to your IT department.
  • Be social media savvy and refrain from publishing too much information about your personal life
  • Only download apps from the official app store.
  • Keep a password on your mobile phone.
  • Ensure your antivirus is always updated, avoid suspicious websites.
  • Take note of warning screens your computer sends you.
  • Be cautious about working in public, and don’t share USB sticks with strangers.
  • Always think before you click


Issued by Corporate Image on behalf of Alexander Forbes