It’s an unfortunate and unavoidable fact that cybercrime is on the rise. The South African Banking Risk Information Centre recently estimated that the country loses R2.2billion to internet fraud every year, which equates to a frankly terrifying R5.5million a day.
With attacks so prevalent, even leading organisations like the online lender Wonga has produced a guide for its customers to help them distinguish between genuine and fraudulent messages. But what measures can consumers take to keep their personal finances safe? Here are seven security steps you can take…
- Set strong passwords for your accounts
It might sound like overkill, but where possible, your passwords should contain up to 20 characters and include lower and upper case letters, numbers and symbols. You should also get into the habit of changing your passwords every 30 days and never using the same password for more than one account.
- Only complete financial transactions through secure sites
To keep your personal finances safe you should only complete transactions through websites which:
- Display a lock icon at the top left-hand side of the web address bar
- Have web addresses that start with ‘https://’
- Checks links before you click them
You should always take a closer look at the links you intend to use before you click them. Simply hovering over the link will let you see whether you’re going to be redirected to a legitimate location.
- Always log out of banking platforms
As soon as you’ve finished with your e-banking platform, don’t just close the web browser. Instead, you should always log out first. You should also not let the platform from remember your password or login details if you’re not the only person who uses the computer.
- Never reply to unknown emails
You should never reply to emails that offer unexpected gifts or prompt you to update your security information. Reputable organisations will never ask you for sensitive information via email or SMS. If you’re not sure whether a message is from your bank, contact them directly using contact details found on their website and not on any messages you have received, even if they look genuine.
- Use good antivirus software
You should download reliable antivirus software that you trust. This should include an automatic update to keep the software up to date, a firewall to monitor and guard your network activity and real-time scanning to identify the threats.
- Update your operating system, software and browser
You should make sure the operating system, web browser and software you use is regularly updated with the latest security patches. It’s easy to forget to do these updates manually, which can expose you to the latest threats. There are products that will take care of software updates for you to keep your personal information safe.
Do you have any tips, tools or other recommendations to help keep our readers financially secure online? Please share your favourites with our readers in the comments below.