- Online scams
Interpol has seen an increased prevalence of cyber attacks effected through online scams. These scams are generally routed in fake emails or text messages fronting as legitimate and trusted companies to trick individuals into revealing financial information.
- Digital extortion
Digital extortion has also grown, where individuals are tricked in their personal capacity to share sexually compromising footage, which the scammers then use to blackmail the victims for access to personal or financial information.
- Compromised business emails
Email systems have enjoyed increased attention as hackers access business databases to gather critical information regarding corporate payment systems. This information is then used to deceive employees.
Modern-day ransomware has evolved and is commonly used by criminals to block crucial computer systems in public institutes and large corporations. They then demand large sums of money to restore the necessary functionality.
Botnets are vast networks of compromised machines used to orchestrate and automate large scale cyber-attacks.
In Africa, Interpol has observed that attacks against critical infrastructure during the pandemic were most prominently seen in South Africa and Botswana
Accenture, an international information technology company, also identified South Africa to experience the third-highest number of cybercrimes globally. This cyber criminality is partially attributed to the country’s increased use of mobile banking, which suffers an average of 577 malware attacks per hour, which is further fuelled by the influx of COVID-19 related phishing attacks.
Another growing concern has been identified in cryptocurrency scams, wherein criminals seek to defraud victims of their cryptocurrency holdings.
Criminals who engage in cybercrime exploit vulnerabilities within cyber security and take advantage of reduced law enforcement capabilities. Interpol has outlined that their regional cybercrime strategy for the African continent provides a framework for sharing intelligence to strengthen the possible response from law enforcement regarding cyber threats.
This strategy recognised the need for a change to the cybercrime approach and, as a result, encompasses the following four objectives:
- Enhance intelligence for improved cybercrime response.
- Strengthen cooperation to improve joint operations.
- Develop the capacity to regionally combat cybercrime.
- Promote cyber safety practices.
Implementing personal cyber safety practices can significantly mitigate your susceptibility to cyber vulnerability. Here are a few tips to continuously implement:
- Ensure strong, unique passwords.
- Utilise two-factor authentication where possible.
- Only download files from credible sources.
- Ensure that your applications are up to date, as they will include the latest security features.
- Make use of anti-virus software on your devices.
- Be cautious with personal information on social media platforms.
- Ensure website security before sharing sensitive information.
- Do not open email attachments from unknown senders.
- Implement strict protocols for removable media in office environments.
- Keep backups of important data.
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