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The Growth of Cybercrime in Africa and How Businesses Can Stay Safe

Technology continues to improve our lives and how we operate in our daily lives for both people and businesses alike. Technology has also brought about some challenges, such as cybercrime, which is rapidly growing in Africa. Companies and people need to understand what cybercrime is and how not to become a victim.

Cybercrime is a crime that involves activity where the targeted person is targeted either by hackers or cybercriminals with the use of a computer, a computer network and a network device.  In most instances, the purpose of cybercrimes is to gain digital data that hackers could use later on to make a profit. Africa has amongst the lowest internet connectivity rates throughout the world; however, it has amongst the highest malware incidents in the world.

African countries have had to take precautions to protect their citizens from falling prey to this crime.  South Africa will implement a Cybercrime Bill that will look at crimes relating to data, computers, messages and networks that are hacked; illegal interception of data; cyber extortion; cyber forgery and uttering; and ransomware attacks. It will allow law enforcement to investigate cybercrimes cases. The government will then impose a fine of R500 00 on electronic communications service providers and financial institutions that fail to report these offences within 72 hours.

The primary victims of cybercrimes are usually people, property and government.  Crimes against people generally involve identity theft, credit card fraud and spoofing. Property crimes involve hacking, copyright infringement and virus transmission. Crimes against the government include cyber warfare, hacking and gaining access to confidential information.

Types of Cybercrime

  1. Phishing

    Phishing involves an act where the hacker or cybercriminal tricks the targeted user into clicking on a URL or email attachment that will corrupt the user’s device to steal users’ personal information and details without their consent to gain access into their financial or email accounts.
  1. Malware

    Malware typically comes in many forms and is also the most significant online threat. The hacker will usually try to gain the targeted users’ financial information by installing key loggers onto the users’ computers without their knowledge.  Once the hackers install the malware, they will track the users’ online activities to gain their financial and personal information or hack into that user’s other systems.
  1. Ransomware

    This cybercrime involves hackers infecting the targeted user’s computer through a phishing attack and then using the personal information gained and encrypting the user’s data. For the user to acquire their data back, the user would have to pay a ransom, even if there is no guarantee that they will receive their data.
  1. Scams

    Scams are sometimes tricky to spot as they come in many different forms, but they usually offer things meant to entice you, but they are too good to be true. If you receive extravagant offers with scenarios such as job offers that require you to make a payment first, it is probably a scam.

How to Protect Your Business Against Them?

Cybercrimes and cyberattacks can be costly for your business, and it is essential to take precautionary measures to protect your business. Here are some tips offered that you can follow to prevent falling prey to cybercrime.

  1. Consider employee training

    In businesses, most cybercrimes thrive because employees are untrained and do not know how to detect these crimes.  For example, employees are likely to click on email attachments from hackers if they do not learn how to see warning signs.  You can hold regular training sessions for employees regarding safe security practices and why you should maintain them regularly. Hence, they are aware of the latest technology and tactics used by hackers.
  1. Updating software regularly

    Updating software regularly can protect your business from any security flaws that could expose you to hackers. Hackers take time to look up the latest software updates and formulate strategies to attack the companies that are behind in software updates.  Software updates can protect you in an attack, but it prevents you from being attacked in the first place.
  1. Secure your hardware

    When people think of cybercrime, they usually think of having cybersecurity software to protect their business; but protecting your company hardware is just as important. If you or your employees were to lose any of your devices, it could pose significant challenges as you could lose important data that the hacker could use for cyber-attacks.  You can firstly attach your computers physically to desks so that they are challenging to pick up. Secondly, you should use strong passwords that are difficult to guess.
  1. Encrypt and back up data

    Even though protecting your devices can protect you against cyber-attacks, you need to plan for the worst-case scenario. If a hacker was to gain access to your devices, they should not physically access the data on those devices, such as employee and customer information. One way to do this is through encrypting all your sensitive data, which you can do quickly using the software. Once your data has been encrypted, ensure that you back up that data to avoid security breaches.
  1. Limit network admin rights

    When you limit network admin access rights to fewer people in the company, it could decrease the number of data breaches that you experience because fewer employees would have access to important data.  This data could only be available to a few people within the IT department, and those people should receive adequate training on safely storing and encrypting that data.

Take a look at other 6 Common Crimes to be Aware of Committed Within South African Businesses.

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