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Secret of email scams: gullibility

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The weakest link in most security defences are the people sitting behind a computer being gullible or greedy. BRANDON BEKKER, MD of Mimecast South Africa, believes companies need to keep their security systems up to date to protect both their data and employees.

The ‘Nigerian Prince’ or ‘419’ email scams we’ve all seen take advantage of the age-old premise: people can be greedy and gullible. Or to put it more positively – people are intrinsically positive about the motives of others and are not on the lookout for scammers and criminals in every email exchange.  But the sad truth is we all need to wake up to the threat in our email. To heighten our security awareness. The world has moved on and despite significant security efforts and new technologies in recent years, there remains a prolific and lucrative cybercrime industry attacking people and organizations alike. Today the weakest link in any security defences are people so protecting data and systems also means protecting people.

The recent history of cyber security shows that all too often it is the employee that opens an organisation up to attack. In most cases (despite high profile insider attacks like Snowden in the US) employees are not willingly participating in an attack. They may not even know they are the unwelcome target of a hacker’s attention and that their online behaviour might be risky. Employees have limited knowledge of the cyber security risks they face (or create). Email scams take advantage of this lack of security knowledge. The cost to an organisation of this knowledge gap is an increased security threat.

Cyber security is a constant game of cat and mouse. As people woke up to the threat from simple email scams like the ‘Nigerian Prince’ its effectiveness declined so the attackers moved onto new techniques. Phishing in its many forms has grown in popularity. Here the attacker sends email to lots of people with a malicious web link to steal credentials for logins or a malware-laden attachment to infect a machine. They know that someone will click through and activate their attack. Then there is spear-phishing, where targets are more carefully targeted to improve effectiveness and a new, and damaging, variant of this called CEO Fraud or whaling where social engineering is used to really target a specific individual within a target organisation. Individual emails are created that look legitimate, they often even get into a conversation with the target pretending to be their boss, before hitting them up for fraudulent wire transfers of cash or confidential data.

These attacks on email are on the rise and are a significant concern. Recent research from Mimecast showed that 83% of IT security pros consider email to be the most common source of the attack and 64% believing the attacks to pose a high or extremely high threat.

These attacks also work. Sad but true.  People are being duped every day. The FBI reported recently in the U.S. that losses from whaling or CEO fraud attacks alone grew by 270 percent from January to August 2015 with reported losses of $800 million in just six months from August 2015. Our own research showed that in the first three months of 2016, 67% of organisations had seen an increase in attacks designed to extort fraudulent payments and 43% saw an increase in attacks specifically asking for confidential data like HR records or tax information.

Clearly investing in up-to-date technology to defend your organisation is critical but remember that employees are the first line of defense and educating them regularly about potential cyberattacks is vital. As is telling them what to do when they spot a problem or feel they many have been duped. A culture that encourages and supports employees in being open (and fast to act) when they have made a mistake is important.

So in the battle of organizations versus the email scammers it will be employees armed with great technology that will make the difference.

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Now download a bank account

Absa has introduced an end-to-end account opening for new customers, through the Absa Banking App, which can be downloaded from the Android and Apple app stores. This follows the launch of the world first ChatBanking on WhatsApp service.

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This “download your account” feature enables new customers to Absa, to open a Cheque account, order their card and start transacting on the Absa Banking App, all within minutes, from anywhere and at any time, by downloading it from the App stores.

“Overall, this new capability is not only expected to enhance the customer’s digital experience, but we expect to leverage this in our branches, bringing digital experiences to the branch environment and making it easier for our customers to join and bank with us regardless of where they may be,” says Aupa Monyatsi, Managing Executive for Virtual Channels at Absa Retail & Business Banking.

“With this innovation comes the need to ensure that the security of our customers is at the heart of our digital experience, this is why the digital onboarding experience for this feature includes a high-quality facial matching check with the Department of Home Affairs to verify the customer’s identity, ensuring that we have the most up to date information of our clients. Security is supremely important for us.”

The new version of the Absa Banking App is now available in the Apple and Android App stores, and anyone with a South African ID can become an Absa customer, by following these simple steps:

  1. Download the Absa App
  2. Choose the account you would like to open
  3. Tell us who you are
  4. To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
  5. Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
  6. Tell us where you live
  7. Let us know what you do for a living and your income
  8. Click Apply.

 

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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