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Digital Experts Warn South Africa Nears Becoming Africa’s Cybercrime Capital



South Africa is becoming the cybercrime capital of Africa

South Africa is becoming the cybercrime capital of Africa as the country is poised to surpass Nigeria and its ‘Nigerian Prince’ scams in cybercrimes, according to recent data from TCG Forensics, a private forensic company specialising in digital forensics. Despite substantial investments in boosting cybersecurity and passing the Cybercrimes Act in 2021, thousands of South Africans continue to fall prey to cybercrimes, as reported by Jackie Smith, the head of Buyers Trust, a subsidiary of Ooba Group, as per news24.

Smith highlighted the surge in cybercrime, pointing out a staggering 356% increase in impersonation fraud reported by the Southern African Fraud Prevention Services between April 2022 and April 2023. She explained that several factors contribute to South Africa’s vulnerability. These factors include economic expansion and an evolving digital landscape.

“Cybercrimes can be committed by anyone with access to a cellphone and an internet connection, making these crimes incredibly easy to perpetrate. And, with only an estimated 10% of cybercrimes reported to the police, criminals feel that they can operate without consequence,” she added.

There are also not enough police officers who can handle cybercrime. This difficulty in prosecution and policing allows sophisticated organised crime syndicates to operate relatively efficiently in South Africa.

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The property industry has become an attractive target for cybercriminals. The reason for this attraction is the vast amount of valuable personal data involved and the financial transactions that take place daily. Smith emphasised that property companies handle large volumes of personal and financial data related to buyers, sellers, tenants, and landlords, making them susceptible to data breaches and deposit phishing schemes.

Regarding deposit phishing schemes, Smith explained that fraudsters intercept emails between buyers and sellers to pose as legitimate real estate agents or conveyancing attorneys, diverting the buyer’s deposit into their bank account. She noted the increasing sophistication of cybercriminals, making distinguishing legitimate emails from fraudulent ones challenging.

To protect against phishing scams, Smith advised being cautious with email links and attachments, double-checking email senders, verifying website authenticity, avoiding sharing sensitive information over email or unfamiliar websites, and considering secure and transparent third-party alternatives for deposit transactions.

By taking these precautionary measures, individuals and businesses can minimise the risk of falling victim to cybercrimes and contribute to a safer online environment in South Africa.

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Surge in Cyberattacks – Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia Witness 76% Increase in 2022, Reveals Liquid C2 Report

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