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How companies can protect their customers with e-signatures

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With phishing attempts on the increase and becoming more sophisticated, South African companies that regularly communicate and interact with their customers by email should introduce digital signatures to their bulk messages in order to authenticate them to their intended recipients.

South African companies that regularly communicate and interact with their customers by email should introduce digital signatures to their bulk messages in order to authenticate them to their intended recipients.

According to Cordell Brewer, marketing director at email marketing firm TouchBasePro who highlighted the recent warning by the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) concerning an increase in phishing attempts aimed at local Internet users.

Mr Brewer mentioned that incidences of phishing are becoming increasingly commonplace and ever more sophisticated. Companies should take steps to protect their valuable brands and even more valuable customers against these scams that attempt to abuse their brands, he added.

SABRIC’s data reveals that the number of phishing websites targeting local bank clients that have been detected and shut by the banks more than trebled over the tail-end of 2010 and the first months of 2011.

Though fake emails are often sent in the name of one of the country’s big banks, they are increasingly targeting other institutions such as the South African Revenue Service. Some fraudsters are even targeting the clients of small businesses such as property rental firms, said Brewer.

They gather as much information as they can about such companies and then send official-looking emails or letters ‚ accurate down to the logo, address details, and so on – to clients informing them of a change in banking details. This often tricks unsuspecting recipients into depositing money into a scammer’s bank account.

While the major banks have their own in-house systems to authenticate their emails to their clients most smaller companies do not have this technology at their disposal, said Brewer.

By digitally signing a message, a user adds unique digital mark to the message.

TouchBasePro is one of the few self-service email providers that can offer this sophisticated technology to any company that sends bulk emails to its client base.

‚This technology means that customers will be able to verify that an email with sensitive information was actually sent by your company and that it wasn’t tampered with before they opened it,‚ Mr Brewer added. ‚But many businesses have steered clear of them because they are unwieldy and expensive for bulk email unless you are as well-resourced as one of the banks. With our technology, it becomes easy to protect your reputation and the interests of your customers simply by signing your messages with a digital watermark,‚ he concluded

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