Following President Ramaphosa’s recent pronouncement that South Africans should “get used to living with the coronavirus for some time to come”, it’s clear that many of us are going to continue working from home during the remainder of 2020.
The downside of many millions spending more time online at home for work, entertainment, study, social and other purposes is that we may inadvertently let down our guard and expose ourselves to would-be fraudsters using malware and ransomware for nefarious purposes, says Ilonka Badenhorst, GM of SA’s Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA).
“With 90-million mobile connections and widespread availability of money transfer and digital banking facilities, South Africa is tremendously attractive to mobile fraudsters who use malware embedded in downloadable apps to gain access to passwords, user names and other sensitive data,” she says.
“People feel comfortable within their own homes and may not be as cautious online as we would ordinarily be within a corporate setting. Furthermore, the connected home environment may not offer the same built-in protections against fraudsters as the office,” Badenhorst adds.
WASPA provides the following advice to mobile users keen to continue staying safe online:
* Never give out any personal information via SMS or email, regardless of the information the requesting company may already have about you.
* Delete any suspicious SMSs or emails immediately. Opening spam SMSs or emails may load malware onto your phone, computer or electronic device, which can track personal information and passwords.
* Ensure your anti-virus and anti-malware programmes are always up to date and run scans on your phone, computer or electronic devices daily.
* Keep your software updated and uninstall any apps you are no longer using.
* Only download apps from official app stores – don’t download apps from unverified third party sites.
* If you receive a text message or email from an alleged known source, like your bank or a financial institution, but they are requesting personal or financial information, rather contact their customer support line (details to be obtained on their official website) to verify the authenticity of the SMS or email and the associated request.
* If you receive an SMS that you suspect is fraudulent, a scam or spam, visit the WASPA website and report the originating number and SMS contents at https://waspa.org.za/report-spam/
“Information is power and never has this been more true than during humanity’s current battle against the coronavirus. As always, our best weapon online and in the changing bricks and mortar world is our own common sense,” concludes Badenhorst.