Criminals are targetting banking apps in South Africa – what you need to know

 ·4 Mar 2024

The Southern African Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS) has reported a rise in fraudulent activities, including a new trend of criminals targeting banking apps to loot victims’ bank accounts.

Speaking to SABC News, Manie van Schlkwyk said the SAFPS had noted an increase in thefts of mobile phones, with criminals specifically targeting banking apps.

“Cellphones are stolen, and then, by using the banking app on that phone, criminals are somehow gaining access to bank accounts,” said van Schlkwyk.

He added that if your phone is stolen, the first port of call is the banks so that they can de-link your app from your accounts as soon as possible – only then should you worry about phoning your cell provider and cancelling the SIM.

There has also been an increase in cases of people being defrauded after being hijacked, with criminals forcing them to transfer money using their banking apps.

While there aren’t many measures available to protect consumers from instances of hijacking, Absa’s head of fraud strategy, Ulrich Janse van Rensburg, recommends the following procedures:

  • Download the latest versions of your banking apps, which are loaded with the latest security features;
  • Make sure to read the approval requests carefully to ensure you approve transaction requests you intend to process;
  • Never pay monies into third-party accounts; and
  • Phone your respective bank’s fraud hotline immediately if you suspend any fraudulent activity.

According to the latest Interpol report, South Africa is at the top of Africa in cyber threats, ranking third worldwide.

Gauteng has the highest number of recorded fraudulent cases (59%), followed by Kwa-Zulu Natal, which reports 18% of cases in South Africa.

Additionally, according to cybersecurity company Kaspersky, the number of mobile threats detected in the Middle East, Turkiye, and Africa (META) region increased by 22% from 2022 to 2023.

Specifically, South Africa saw a 104% increase in mobile threats.

These statistics come from Kaspersky’s products on Android devices, with Apple devices harder to monitor due to OS specifications.

The most prevalent mobile threats flagged by Kaspersky include mobile banking trojans. “Trojans can steal data from victims’ devices, add unwanted subscriptions, and extort money.”

“In 2024, we believe that the number of advanced attacks on mobile devices will increase, as attackers are constantly looking for new ways to deliver malware, and the malware itself is becoming more sophisticated,” it said.

Read: Kieswetter sends a warning to banks in South Africa

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter