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Watch out for these eight digital bank scams

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As access to banking services through digital channels continues to grow, so does the need to protect consumers against the prevalence of online banking fraud, YOLANDE STEYN, Head of Innovation at FNB, outlines eight scams to watch out for.

“We view security as an integral part of a seamless online banking experience,” says Yolande Steyn, Head of Innovation at FNB. “Therefore, due to the prevalence of banking scams, we urge consumers to be more vigilant and familiarise themselves with the different types of online banking fraud.

“FNB proactively closes down fraudulent phishing websites used by criminals to try and access customers’ confidential banking details.”

Steyn outlines the latest online banking scams that target consumers:

Flight purchase debit scams – you will receive an SMS informing you of a flight purchase debited to your account. Fraudsters will request you to select a link in the SMS to revise the transaction.

When you select the link, you will be redirected to a fake FNB website. You are then redirected to an ‘Update and Confirm Details’ screen requesting more information to be verified. The fraudsters will now be in a position to access your banking profile.

Social media scams – beware of fraudsters pretending to represent FNB or RB Jacobs on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp or any other social media platform. We will never ask for your credit or cheque card, account number, online banking login details or password or One Time PIN (OTP) on social media platforms. FNB’s official social media accounts are @FNBSA and @RBJacobs on Twitter and FNBSA on Facebook. The official accounts also display a blue tick indicating that they are verified.

Change of banking details scam – you will receive an email that pretends to come from one of your suppliers asking you to update your banking details. Beware of this even if it is on the supplier’s letterhead.

Contact your supplier on the number that you already have for them and not the one on the fraudulent letter. Speak to someone you know at the supplier to confirm the change in banking details.

Copy of payment notification scam – you will receive an email requesting you to open a copy of your payment notification. Fraudsters will prompt you to login via the email attachment.

When you open the attachment in the email, you will be redirected to a fake FNB website. In an attempt to steal your banking details you will be requested to login. As soon as you enter your login details on the screen, you are redirected to a successfully logged out screen. The fraudsters will now be in a position to access your banking profile.

419 scams – this is communication by e-mail to a recipient making an offer that would result in a large pay off for the recipient. The details vary and large amounts of money are usually involved. Invariably, the victims’ banking details as well as sums of money are said to be required in advance in order to facilitate the payment of the funds. Essentially, the promised money transfer never happens and in addition the fraudsters may use the victims’ banking details to withdraw money for themselves.

Vishing and smishing scams – this is phishing, but instead of being lured to a fake website via email, you receive a call or SMS, where the individual pretends to be from the bank or other companies and gets you to disclose personal information such as your ID number, address, account number, username, login details, password and PIN. This information can also be used to gain unauthorised access to your banking account online.

OTP Email Fraud using various methods of phishing, criminals also try to get access to your email accounts, commonly Gmail, Yahoo, etc. They produce fake login sites that look like Gmail or Yahoo. Once they have your email username and password, they have access to your emails (statements, personal communications) and this helps a criminal to build a social profile of you. Criminals can also intercept One Time Pins (OTPs) that are sent to emails once they have access to your email account.

OTP SIM Swop Fraud – once criminals are in possession of your username and password, they can easily access your accounts on Online Banking. They can also contact your service provider to do a Sim Swop which basically means that they hijack your sim and have access to your SMS. This also gives them access to your One Time Pin (OTP).

“Remember, the bank will never ask for your username, password or PIN in an email, SMS, social media or phone call,” says Steyn. “Never select a link to our website that was sent via email. Always type in the web address.”

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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By 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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How load-shedding is killing our cellphone signals

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Extensive load-shedding, combined with the theft of cell tower backup batteries and copper wire, is placing a massive strain on mobile network providers.

MTN says the majority of MTN’S sites have been equipped with battery backup systems to ensure there is enough power on site to run the system for several hours when local power goes out and the mains go down. 

“With power outages on the rise, these back-up systems become imperative to keeping South Africa connected and MTN has invested heavily in generators and backup batteries to maintain communication for customers, despite the lack of electrical power,” the operator said in a statement today.

However, according to Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive: Corporate Affairs, at MTN SA, “The high frequency of the cycles of load shedding have meant batteries were unable to fully recharge. They generally have a capacity of six to 12 hours, depending on the site category, and require 12 to 18 hours to recharge.”

An additional challenge is that criminals and criminal syndicates are placing networks across the country at risk. Batteries, which can cost R28 000 per battery and upwards, are sought after on black markets – especially in neighbouring countries. 

“Although MTN has improved security and is making strides in limiting instances of theft and vandalism with the assistance of the police, the increase in power outages has made this issue even more pressing,” says O’Sullivan.

Ernest Paul, General Manager: Network Operations at SA’s leading network provider MTN, says the brazen theft of batteries is an industry-wide problem and will require a broader initiative driven by communities, the private sector, police and prosecutors to bring it to a halt.

“Apart from the cost of replacing the stolen batteries and upgrading the broken infrastructure, communities suffer as the network degrades without the back-up power. This is due to the fact that any coverage gaps need to be filled. The situation is even more dire with the rolling power cuts expected due to Eskom load shedding.”

Loss of services and network quality can range from a 2-5km radius to 15km on some sites and affect 5,000 to 20,000 people. On hub sites, network coverage to entire suburbs and regions can be lost.

Click here to read more about efforts to combat copper theft.

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