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10 ways to ruin the day for a cybercriminal

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As technology evolves our lives become easier. But it also means that cybercriminals can do that much more damage should they gain access to our personal information. CAREY VAN VLAANDEREN, CEO at ESET South Africa offers some tips on how to avoid being hacked.

1. Update your security solution, applications, and operating system

This is of vital importance, as software updates often include solutions to security defects that have been found.  This way, if your system or application has any flaws, they will be resolved by the updates, meaning an attacker will not be able to exploit any kind of known vulnerability in your system.

2. Install security solutions on your devices

Computers, smartphones, tablets and any other devices that allow security software to be installed should be protected. It is important not to use pirated software because, besides being illegal, it is unlikely to offer proper protection.

Tools like firewalls and antivirus software will defend you from various threats, including Trojans and other types of malware, as well through various detection technologies, which help prevent leaks or information threats.

3. Make backups

As well as making backup copies regularly, you should ensure that they are kept in a safe place: putting them on an external drive should be sufficient. Be sure not to leave them constantly connected, because if your computer becomes infected with any kind of ransomware, your backup files could become encrypted too, even if they are stored in the cloud.

If your computer becomes infected and you have kept your backup in a safe place, you will easily be able to restore your information after you disinfect your system.

4. Report phishing emails and websites

One of the most frequently used methods for carrying out fraud is the old trick of setting up fake websites. Receiving an email from a sender that looks familiar, with a link that directs you to a fake portal, is a technique often employed by cybercriminals.

To prevent this from happening, it is very important to report phishing websites from whichever browser you are using, and also report them to your antivirus provider if it does not already recognise the site as a malicious portal.

If the phishing website is a financial one, you could get in touch with the organisation affected so they can start the process of getting rid of it.  This way, you will be helping to protect the community by warning people about the dangers of visiting fake sites.  We do our bit at The ESET LATAM Research Lab by reporting the cases we receive.

5. Change your passwords

There are many ways in which your password can be compromised.  Make sure you have a strong password, change it regularly, and don’t use the same one for multiple accounts.

These three pillars will help keep they key to your digital identity secure.

6. Activate two-factor authentication

Even if you follow each of these recommended practices to protect your passwords, they could still become compromised. However, two-factor authentication, which is available on most social networks and online services, will significantly increase your levels of security.

If a cybercriminal manages to steal your password, they will not be able to do any significant damage, as they will still need to input a code generated by this additional layer of security.

7. Check the privacy of your social network

All too often we’ve seen users sharing an excessive amount of sensitive information on social networks.

This problem is exacerbated if their posts are public. Platforms like Facebook allow you to set up groups where you can share information and limit who views it.

It is also important not to grant access to users you don’t know and to review the permission that you have in place around your personal information.

8. Check the status of your bank accounts

You can never check your balance too often, as by doing so you may detect an irregularity or unknown transaction.  If your card has been cloned or you have fallen victim to banking malware, regularly checking your account tis the best way for you to keep tabs on any attacks that may have happened – and minimize the damage.

9. Make sure you aren’t subscribed to any premium SMS services

The number of hoaxes circulating on WhatsApp continues to increase, with one single campaign having the ability to yield more than 10 million victims.  This often ends up with users being caught off guard and subscribing to numbers that send SMS messages which change the recipient a fee to receive them.

To prevent this, many countries allow you to check whether you are subscribed to any such services on your phone provider’s website.

10. Be aware of your environment

Understanding how hoaxes work is the best way to avoid falling victim to one.  At the same time, sharing your knowledge will make you a friend of IT security, and by protecting the devices of other people who use the same network as you, you will also be taking care of your own property and the information stored on your computer.

Undoubtedly, if you follow these tips, you will be able to increase your security of your devices and create obstacles for cybercriminals, which in most cases will prevent attacks, as increasing the complexity of these operations will most likely put them off attempting them.

Arts and Entertainment

VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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New data rules raise business trust challenges

When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

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The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.

GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.

The fundamentals of trust

GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.

The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.

This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.

What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.

The risk of compliance

Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.

A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.

A three-step plan of action

So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:

Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.

Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.

Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.

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