The internet is such an integral part of our lives that it can be easy sometimes to forget that not everyone we encounter online has our best interests at heart.

Internet scams are an ever-present threat, with hackers and cybercriminals doing their best to stay one step ahead of us at every turn.

Data breaches are also becoming more costly for businesses: In 2022 alone, according to a data breach report by IBM and the Ponemon institute, the average cost for a business hit with a data breach was R74 million!

And unfortunately, it’s not just businesses at risk.

In 2021, 1 in 2 North American internet users had their accounts compromised with an average of 97 data breaches every hour worldwide.

That amounts to R13.4 million lost every hour, globally, due to data breaches.

No alt text provided for this image

Cyber security affects us all, and it’s quickly becoming a chilling reality we have to face.

Phishing is the most prevalent cyber threat and it often serves as a gateway for more damaging attacks.

When unsuspecting individuals fall for phishing scams and enter their credentials or download malware on a spoof website, hackers are provided with the tools they need to escalate their attacks, leading to serious threats like ransomware.

The growth of social media has given cyber criminals yet another avenue of attack. In 2022, Facebook’s parent company, Meta, discovered over 400 malicious iOS and Android apps that aimed to steal Facebook login credentials from mobile users.

43% of these apps posed as ‘photo editors’ with features such as turning oneself into a cartoon, while 15% were referred to as ‘business utility’ apps, claiming to offer features not available in official apps.

No alt text provided for this image

Cyber criminals use fake reviews to artificially inflate the ranking of their apps, hiding any negative reviews and potentially leading unsuspecting users to log in to the app with their Facebook accounts, giving hackers access to their personal information.

In order to avoid falling victim to scammers, it’s crucial that we stay alert to red flags.

The fake prize scam, adult website scam, and ‘win a holiday’ scam are just a few ways scammers use to deceive their victims.

The best defence against these scams is to educate ourselves on the warning signs and stay vigilant in protecting our personal information.

Here are a few ways to help avoid falling victim to online scams:

  1. Be skeptical of unsolicited emails, calls, and messages: Scammers often use these methods to get personal information. Be especially wary of requests for sensitive information like passwords, ID and passport numbers, or credit card numbers.
  2. Be cautious of clicking on links or downloading attachments in emails or messages from unknown sources. As mentioned before, these are often methods scammers use to start the initial attack.
  3. Do your research: Before providing personal information or making a purchase, research the company or individual that you’re dealing with. Look for customer reviews, or check other websites to see if there are any complaints against the company.
  4. Be wary of unbelievable offers or too-good-to-be-true deals.
  5. Update your computer and phone software: Security updates often patch gaps scammers exploit. To protect your personal information and encrypt your online activity, consider using a VPN.
  6. Do not share sensitive information over the phone or online unless you initiate the contact and trust the recipient.
  7. If you suspect you’re the target of a scam, immediately reach out to the proper authorities for assistance. They will be able to advise you on the next steps to take.

And lastly, remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.