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Hacking is on the rise and the biggest security risk is: you

Article written by Donovan Manuel (Microsoft)

Sophisticated cybercrimes are rapidly increasing and will become the biggest threat yet.

The question is, are you informed? And more importantly, is your family and business protected?

With South Africa currently ranked as the sixth most hacked country in the world (Surfshark 2022), cybercrime is a dangerous reality. The increase in hacking is revealing a disturbing trend-businesses and homes are attacked, and in the process, families and livelihoods are affected.

Attacks to TransUnion SA prove that hackers have the skill to break through even the toughest security measures. The credit bureau confirmed that at least 3 million South Africans were affected by the hack (TransUnion 2022).

Most recently, Dis-Chem has been under attack and 3.6 million of its customers’ names, e-mail addresses and cellphone numbers were accessed by hackers (Matshoba 2022). This puts every Dis-Chem customer in a vulnerable position as they are now at an increased risk of cybercrime.

Could you become a target?

As an IT company specializing in cybersecurity, we have witnessed increasingly sophisticated hacking tricks. Here are some common scenarios:

Scenario 1: An email from the bank

Peter is an employee at a company. He receives an e-mail from his bank and opens the attached document. Without his knowledge, his laptop has now been hacked. His business data, banking transactions, e-mails, and document are monitored. While he types in his passwords the hackers capture his keystrokes, which now give them access to his secret codes.

The attackers wait, they need more information. After three months they know where his wife works, the names of his children and the school they attend.

The cyber criminals clear his account, retrieve information about his family, and sell the data on the dark web. Peter loses his life savings and the leaked information about his family has become his biggest security threat.

Scenario 2: Home Wi-Fi

The Dhlamini family is at home; they are unaware of a car parked outside their house. Hackers are in the car attempting to access their Wi-Fi network. Within minutes they have access, due to the family’s simple Wi-Fi password.

The family has their security cameras linked to their home network. The attackers are able to scan the home and living spaces. After a week, the Dhlamini’s lives are hit by devastation as their home is burgled and work laptops, including confidential data, are stolen.

Scenario 3: Signing up on a website

Aaliyah decides to use her work e-mail to sign up on a website. The website has a breach and leaks her personal information and password. A hacker uses her information to access her e-mail account and starts to intercept all her mails. The attacker notices that she is in the process of purchasing a new home by reading the correspondences with her conveyancing attorneys. They create a rule on her inbox to move all incoming e-mails from her attorneys to the deleted items folder. This way she will not notice any new mails that are sent to her by her attorneys. 

After modifying the banking details on the attorney’s invoice, they use special software to craft a new e-mail. Aaliyah is expecting the invoice and pays it immediately, transferring 300k of her own hard-earned money to the attacker.

Cybersecurity needs to become a priority

We have alarm systems installed in our homes and armed security companies a phone call away and yet, the necessity of cybersecurity is still severely undermined in homes and businesses.

Here are some security measures you can implement now:

  • Awareness is crucial. Scenarios 1 and 3 reveal the importance of alertness; company staff and family members need to be trained on the advanced tricks hackers use.
  • Always update your network devices. When last have you updated your security camera’s firmware? If you haven’t done so in a while, Scenario 2 could pose a real threat.
  • Don’t just rely on anti-virus software. Anti-virus systems are critical to have but hackers are sophisticated and can still target the individual.
  • Always have strong passwords. Complex passwords with uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special symbols are essential.
  • Do not use the same password. This includes your e-mails, social media, banking, Wi-Fi etc. The more variation in passwords, the safer you are.
  • Implement a zero trust policy. Verify everything, even an email from a loved one could be trap.
  • Build your cyber resilience. If you want to ensure your safety, reach out to a cyber security professional or sign up to a cyber security assessment to identify your vulnerabilities.

Protect yourself now before it’s too late

Stephane Nappo (CISO) stated the following: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and few minutes of cyber-incident to ruin it.”

As a family man and business executive, I am concerned about the increase in cybercrime.

A cyber hack remains devastating, whether it includes the loss of your life savings, the risk of your family’s safety or the impact on your business, one thing remains certain: cyber security is a habit we need to implement now.

And it starts with you.

*Follow us for more detailed advice on how to protect yourself.

References:

Matshoba, A 2022, ‘Dis-Chem flags data hack affecting over 3.6m customers’, Moneyweb, 11 May, accessed 12 May 2022

Surfshark 2022, accessed 2 May 2022

TransUnion 2022, accessed 2 May 2022

Microsoft is a proud Partner of the NSBC