Mobile Cybercrime in South Africa

Cyber crime can be defined as : “criminal activities carried out by means of computers or the Internet.” With the use of smart phones these days, we can add mobile to that list.

Recently twelve people were arrested in Pretoria, for being involved in an International cybercrime syndicate. Authorities stated that “ the suspects, 11 Nigerians and one South African woman, were linked to this global scam. The suspects enriched themselves with illegally obtained funds,” They also mentioned that they will continue to “collaborate with the South African Police Service.

Interpol and other government agencies, as well as also increasing public awareness of these crimes. That being said many South Africans still fall victim to these schemes on a daily basis. Scammers are constantly looking for their next victim and if you ask any South African on the street, they will tell you that they have received many smses, stating that they have won the lottery, or that Rica has paid them out a large sum of money.

The ploy is usually to call someone on a cellphone number, scammers often ask that you deposit money into their account so they can get the money to you. Remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Ghareeb Saad, a senior security researcher at Kapersky Lab says that: “While mobile and financial malware, advanced persistent threats and web threats are becoming more popular among cybercriminals, removable devices and local networks are still the prime sources of IT risks for users in Africa.”

As South Africans we should be aware of cybercrime risks and take care of our data by using comprehensive security solutions and be vigilant when it comes to our online activity.

The Norton Report for 2014 suggests that “a global survey of end-users, showed that 38 percent of mobile users have already experienced mobile cybercrime. Lost or stolen devices remain the biggest risk, but mobile users are behaving in ways that leave themselves open to other problems.” As South Africans we are often carelessly storing sensitive information on our mobile phones, without the realization that our personal information can be so easily accessed. It is said that less than 50 percent of mobile users use even basic security, when it comes to personal information such as online banking etc.

To stay one step ahead of scammers and phishers it is vital to do the following: Check the version of the mobile payments app you are using – the same goes for your mobile banking app.
Ensuring that you regularly update any banking apps, guarantees that you have the latest security upgrades to deter criminals.