Phishing scams continue to increase the world over, and South Africans are falling prey to them at an alarming rate. Recently South Africa same day cash provider Wonga acted in quick response to complaints from a small percentage of customers, by implementing a live hotline where consumers can report suspicious emails and potential online fraud.
Online Phishing Scams Escalating to Mobile Technology
With the advent of the Smartphone, more of us are accessing the internet from devices we carry around with us in our pockets. Mobile devices provide convenience in today’s fast-paced life, and as Smartphones become more powerful we’ll undoubtedly use them for more and more tasks. However, we sometimes forget they can store vast amounts of personal information and we need to be vigilant to protect ourselves.
According to Vodacom, cell-phones are generally secure as long as simple safety measures are observed. The most obvious precautions are to physically keep the device near to you and to enable PIN-code protection. When using your Smartphone, exercise the same kind of caution as you would with your PC and steer clear of dodgy internet links, especially those that come via SMS.
Tracking devices and information stored on our mobile devices mean that others can get to know a lot about us, our location and what we’re doing. Governments, for example, use our personal information regularly. In South Africa, the government’s right to access to a customer’s basic information is governed by several statutes.
There’s Rica, the electronic communications and transactions act that gives government authorities the power to monitor and inspect websites or any activities on information systems for any unlawful activities, and several other laws.
But it’s not just the lawmakers that exploit our personal data. Increasingly companies are collecting as much information as they can about us for commercial purposes, and sometimes we’re completely unaware they’re doing it.
Facebook uploads our address book and stores our contacts, but it asks for permission and tells users why. Google aggregates and combines personal information across its services and stores our information indefinitely, but it forces developers to notify people what data they plan to access.
When we choose “Find Friends,” Twitter stores our address books for up to 18 months without explicit permission for access. Instagram also uploads our contacts’ names, phone numbers or email addresses, and only recently introduced a permissions screen that requires the user to click “allow” to continue.
Compared with other crime categories, mobile banking fraud is an emerging threat and not yet that prevalent in SA. The South African Banking Risk Information Centre claims that they have not had reports about attacks on the actual mobile banking platform, but are aware that cellphones are definitely used by criminals to perpetrate crime.
FNB was the first South African bank to introduce a banking app and it insists it’s secure. The only compromises are where clients divulge their username and password to a third party. FNB warns its clients that they must be vigilant at all times. They also make it clear they never ask them for their username and password combination, whether by email or via SMS.
Although users may not be in a position to stop information being taken from them, they can control what they store on their mobile devices and the security settings they use. Microsoft has a very comprehensive set of guidelines which will help you to identify possible phishing emails, messages, and phone calls. 🙂