A new survey conduced by credit bureau TransUnion, shows how South African consumers are being targeted by online fraudsters taking advantage of their precarious, and often desperate positions brought on by Covid-19.
38% of SA consumers surveyed by TransUnion, reported that they have been a target of digital fraud related to Covid-19, with 5% having acted on it and fallen victim.
The poll forms part of a new report showing how the Covid-19 pandemic, and resulting lockdown continues to impact the financial position of South Africans, and their ability to pay bills.
The report is based on a survey of 1,031 adults in South Africa between 1 and 6 July, and is the fifth in a series of polls conducted by the firm since the implementation of lockdown in the country at the end of March.
Among consumers who have been targeted, the top three scams include unemployment scams, third-party seller scams on legitimate online retail websites and phishing.
All three scams are up from a poll taken a month ago, namely up three percentage points, up five percentage points, and up six percentage points, respectively.
Which statement best describes your personal experience with any digital fraud attempts related to Covid-19?
Speaking at an IITPSA Western Cape chapter webinar on how to become cyber resilient and more aware during Covid-19, Terence Govender, director of IT Advisory at Mazars South Africa, noted that group research found that top targets for fraud and cyber-crime at the moment include home users, SMMEs and the health sector.
Govender said home users are particularly vulnerable because remote working users are seemingly more relaxed at home than they are at the office.
Noting that cyber-crime increasingly pitted computer against computer, he said: “Covid-19 has brought a trend for hackers to launch more phishing and malware attacks using Covid-19 messaging, and to capitalise on less secure corporate networks.”
Govender said that many industries other than the IT sector arew experiencing a dramatic increase in Covid-19 themed phishing attacks.
He noted that Google blocked over 240 million Covid-19 related spam emails between March and April 2020 alone.
“The move from corporate to home is where the exploitation has become vast. We see up to 75 records stolen every second by hackers, and 24% of data breaches as a result of human error through phishing or business process errors. 30,000 websites are now being hacked daily.”
The motive for these attacks was largely for financial gain, he said.
Govender said: “The average cost of a stolen record on the black market is around R4,000, with health records ($408), financial records ($206) and services records ($181) the most valuable.
The reason these records are so valuable is because they contain so much personal information that can be exploited