South Africans are under increasing financial pressure due to the nationwide lockdown and cyber criminals are no exception.

With lockdown restrictions slowly being lifted, insurer Dialdirect encourages continued vigilance when it comes to cyber security.

“One must bear in mind that, just like honest, hardworking South Africans, criminals are also under increasing pressure to make ends meet and will pounce on unsuspecting victims at any and every opportunity. With many South Africans working from home, and not likely having the benefit of the cyber security systems they do at work, vigilance is key,” says Bianca de Beer from Dialdirect Insurance.

The cyber threat landscape is vast and no one is immune. Individuals are regularly targeted with crimes including:

* Identity theft: where criminals obtain information about you to convince a bank or a customer service representative that they’re you.

* Phishing: where criminals attempt to trick unsuspecting individuals into clicking on a malicious URL or e-mail attachment to steal their login details which they can then use to gain unauthorised access to the victims’ financial accounts.

* Ransomware: where a hacker encrypts files on your computer. The only way to get the files back is to pay the hijacker in crypto currency, like bitcoin.

“According to cyber security provider Kaspersky there has been extremely high levels of cyber exploits since lockdown began and in South Africa, devices affected by cyber-attacks spiked from under 30 000 daily to 310 000 on 18 March,” says de Beer.

To protect yourself against cybercrime, Dialdirect offers the following advice:

* Read about cybercrime. The more you know, the more likely you are to spot a con and the less likely you will fall for scams.

* Don’t use your social media profiles to log in to other accounts.

* Use strong passwords, with a variety of upper case and lower case letters, symbols, and numbers. Never write them down where other people can see them. You should also try to change them up every now and then.

* Only use reputable online shopping sites. One thing you can do is look at the URL of the website. If it begins with “https” instead of “http” it means the site is secure. Also check with friends if they’ve heard of it or used it before.

* Be extra cautious when using WiFi hotspots. Some scammers falsify popular hotspots.

* Don’t click on random links.

* Use good quality security software and a firewall on your computer, and update them regularly.

* To protect against identity theft, take care not to reveal too much about yourself on social media networks.

* Back-up the data on your computer, daily.

* Do not respond to random emails claiming that you have won a prize or inherited money.

* Keep an eye on your monthly statements to identify unusual/unauthorised transactions or behaviours.

Dialdirect offers Cyber Insurance specially designed for individuals. The product includes cover for damage sustained by third parties as a result of the insured’s computer system or cloud account being hacked or infected with a virus; unlimited access to a 24 hour Legal Assist line, legal mediation and legal litigation and cover for the restoration of damaged user-generated content and the recovery of lost data (where possible) as a result of a hack or virus.