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#WomensMonth: Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET South Africa, provides safety tips this tax season

"The best way to protect yourself and avoid possible cyber scammers is to always be vigilant and never give out your private or personal information", says Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET South Africa.
Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET South Africa,
Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET South Africa,
Carey van Vlaanderen not only works at, but leads a cybersecurity company. This Women's Month she shares what it's like working in a predominately male industry. She also provides a few tips that can help to avoid possible scammers during the current tax season.

BizcommunityCan you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a mom of two at home and a mom of 35 at the office. I love being around people and growing them. I really try to lead with a strong back, soft heart which is authentic to my leadership style. The things I love most are the outdoors, such as being at the beach, in the mountains and playing field hockey with friends.

While my formal training at UCT in Information Systems (B.Com Honours) has lead me down a path in the tech industry, we managed to bring the great ESET products into South Africa at an early state of the business, right back in the times we worked from the garage. This was the backbone of my growth in the industry and as a CEO. What an amazing opportunity was afforded to me.

BizcommunityYou're the CEO at ESET South Africa. Tell us more about your role here

My role at ESET is ensuring the direction of all the projects we are working on and keeping them in line with our business strategic goal while ensuring the highest level of customer service from our team. It's a very hands on role and I enjoy engaging with everyone on the team and seeing their passion as they work on these projects.

BizcommunityWhat is the core function of ESET South Africa?

We are all about online security. ESET started out as a pioneer in anti virus protection, creating award-winning threat detection software. As our client’s needs have changed, our business has evolved too.
Our goal is to ensure that everybody enjoys the breathtaking opportunities that technology offers – safely. Our solutions allow businesses and consumers in more than 200 countries to make the most of the digital world.
We believe in technology, and have a solution for everyone. The internet is an amazing place where we can learn, explore, connect and have fun. With ESET, you can do this with confidence and peace of mind.

BizcommunityDo you have any role models? If so, who?

My role models are close to home. Really amazing parents who taught me the strength of being who you are, allowing strong business ethics and empathy to guide the way. Both of my grans were amazingly strong and independent women, starting an advertising company back in the day, and being the focal point of the family unit. What I learnt from them, cannot be taught at business school.

BizcommunityWe're entering tax season here in SA. What tips do you have to ensure that everything runs smoothly?

Whilst many of us cannot wait for our refunds, we also must be vigilant at all time. Cyber scammers are not sleeping on us, they are seeking to steal your tax refund!

Here are my top 5 tips:
  1. Beware of phishing: Always look at who the email is from. It’s possible to fake any email address, but not all phishers are this clever – they may use a random email address that gives the game away.

  2. Beware of attachments: nothing is safe, cybercriminals use them all. To a cybercriminal, nothing is sacred - wedding invitations, invoices and tax returns are all commonly used tactics. Always think hard before opening any attachment – even ones that seem to come from friends.

  3. Be extra careful around short URLs: If there isn’t a cap on the number of letters, why has someone shortened the link? You cannot take it for granted that URL shortening services are redirecting you to trustworthy websites.

  4. SARS phone calls: It’s doubtful SARS will be calling you and they definitely are not going to offer any sort of gift card for filing early. If you get weird emails or phone calls, ignore them, or hang up.

  5. Encryption is the only way to go: If you file online, look for encrypted websites. Make sure the website you are visiting has "HTTPS" in front of the URL. Typically, it will have a green or grey lock showing it’s a secure connection.

BizcommunityWhat should citizens look out for to avoid possible cyber scams?

The best way to protect yourself and avoid possible cyber scammers is to always be vigilant and never give out your private or personal information.
Also, always avoid using public Wi-Fi, particularly when shopping or checking your bank account online.
You do not want anyone snooping on your browsing. And update your operating system all the time. Regardless of your operating system keeping it fully updated is crucial.

BizcommunityYou're a successful businesswoman. How do you keep a balance?

This is always incredibly difficult, but the most important part of being successful.
Great healthy food, lots of good exercise for the body and mind. Spending time with friends, having a good laugh and taking off the work hat is essential.
Having the best work team around me that call out any imbalance, in an honest and constructive way. But, most importantly, having an extremely supportive husband and family. Oh, and of course sleep, lots of it!

BizcommunityWhat role is ESET playing in assisting female business leaders?

We acknowledge past inequalities, then nurture wonderful young South African women to work out their path in life. Without any focus on their gender, but rather what they need to grow.

BizcommunityHow do you think South Africa can help in the fight against GBV?

Always have the conversation about how all human beings should be treated, and teach those around you in your influence, what that looks like and how it should feel and be seen.

BizcommunityAs we celebrate Women's Month in South Africa. Do you have any words of encouragement for all the women out there?

Work hard to know who you are, at your motivational core, and work to be the best version of that.
Your gender is never a defining point, just a part of who you are.
Own who you are, but don’t shy away from your blind spots.

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