It might be scant comfort, but if your data is vulnerable to breach, so is that of every other South African. In fact, SpiderLog$, a group of hackers who recently ran a series of scans on government departments to assess their vulnerability, described the country as 'a playground' for hackers.
Need proof? Consider, for a start that these scans were all unauthorised. The fact that a hacker group was able to do this should sound an alarm – but, since the intent was not malicious, it can be easily dismissed. Far more concerning is the fact that government’s data is so poorly guarded that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s information was stolen by the Brazilian group n$aughtysecTU, who made off with the details of 54 million customers of one of the largest credit bureaus in South Africa at the same time.
Why do data breaches happen? It’s simple, really: it’s just another form of theft – except, this time, it’s not your car or TV that the criminals are after. It’s your bank account information, or credit card details – and although hackers might not use this information themselves, they may sell it on to the highest bidder.
If they don’t directly hack into your bank account, they may use your ID number and personal details to open accounts in your name – which means you can expect a heavy debt, or perhaps even a credit score that’s decidedly unhealthy.
You may even be tricked into providing information through a phishing mail or text that looks legitimate, asking you to present details you usually would protect far more closely – but which you willingly reveal, given that the presentation of the communication is so authentic.
Software is another handy tool for hackers, making it easy for them to plant viruses on your computer and thus gain access to your information.
Nor are businesses immune – they may fall foul of fraudsters who create composite identities, manipulate stolen data for their benefit, or falsify the ownership of bank accounts.
The implications are dire: not only does the business stand to lose any products or income associated with the transaction; they could also suffer reputational damage which will affect the bottom line going forward.
How to protect against this eventuality? It’s critical to engage fraud mitigation services, such as identity and bank account verification. This makes it possible to identify fraudsters before you accept them as customers – saving you (and the fraud victim) much angst and financial fallout.
Bitventure has extensive experience in setting up digital safety nets. We’ve spent 10 years perfecting our risk mitigation tools, which include identity, biometric and bank account verification services.
The Internet isn’t going to go away – nor would we want it to, given the world it has opened to all of us. But, neither are the risks associated with its use going to diminish. The only thing that can possibly change is how businesses approach that risk.