Technological advancements are made daily and the cyber world is constantly evolving with these advancements. Allowing us to access information at the touch of a button.
Yet, there are unscrupulous individuals who make use of the technological world for cybercrime.
“The term ‘cybercrime’ is actually misleading, as it refers to a method and not a crime. Cybercrime is using a computer or the Internet to commit a crime. The crimes committed and investigated by the SAPS are theft, fraud, extortion, assault, and a host of statutory offences,” says Newcastle SAPS spokesperson, Captain Jabulani Ncube.
Captain Ncube says the biggest threat regarding cybercrime, is the fact that communication in this medium, be it through social media, e-mail or even voice, is done anonymously.
“If you speak to a person that you have never met before, you will never be able to guess their age, background or intention through online communication. Therefore, many people fall victim to exploitation or extortion.”
Furthermore, Captain Ncube explains there are constant hacking attacks against platforms like Facebook, Instagram and e-mail clients. “This leads to accounts being ‘hacked’ and individuals or companies experience a loss of private data,” Captain Ncube says.
While cybercriminals do their best to exploit various systems, Captain Ncube says there are steps an individual can take to safeguard themselves while exploring and enjoying the online world.
Steps you can take to protect yourself are:
- Use strong passwords on all your accounts. Short/weak passwords can be bypassed very easily rendering your system open.
- Use a trusted and updated anti-virus program on your computer, as well as your phone.
- It is important to remember that banks will never ask for your identity number, banking detail, pin codes and other private information through emails. This is information they should have.
- Avoid shopping online, if you do not know the supplier. Never do an online transaction in a non-secure environment.
- If you correspond with somebody on social media, make sure you check the person’s credentials or claims. Children should never correspond online with people they do not know or whose identity has not been verified.
- Companies or institutions who transfer large amounts of money between banks should always verify the recipient’s banking detail by phone after receiving such detail by e-mail. “We have a lot of incidents where e-mails are diverted, and false banking details are placed thereon before delivered to clients. Estate agents, attorneys, banks, farmers, big companies, all fall victim to this and this amounts to big losses,” Captain Ncube emphasises.
- Do not spend your hard-earned money on ‘the bargain of a lifetime’ before verifying the existence of the items you want to buy. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Captain Ncube reminds the community that big companies such as Coca-Cola, OMO and Surf do not give away money in contests for which you did not enter and nobody who holds a legitimate lottery or competition will ask you to carry the cost of the bank transfers.
- If it happens that you fall prey to exploitation or extortion, seek help. Children should report this to their parents, teacher or counsellor. Extortion on children, especially for things like nude pictures, is quite common and is dangerously damaging to a child.
Captain Ncube encourages victims of cybercrime to contact the Police Emergency numbers 08600 10111 or 10111.