The rising risk of online fraud post-pandemic

One of the most significant changes that has occurred during the pandemic has been a rise in the amount of online activity. From shopping and banking to communication and jobs, so much of our lives have shifted onto new digital platforms. With a rise in online activity comes the rising risk of online fraud and growing cybersecurity threats.

Economists believe this evolution in the way we buy, sell, work, interact and share online will have a lasting impact on how we perform these social, economic and professional duties. As a result, anti-fraud professionals are anticipating the rise in online fraud that we have seen since Covid-19 first spread will continue.

This means that individuals, communities, businesses and organisations need to prioritise their cybersecurity and ensure the safety and protection of their online activity. The threat of fraudulent schemes is based on the number of active cyber-criminals and potential victims who access personal and financial information online. Both of these numbers have grown tremendously in the past 18 months.

Most organisations have already implemented one or more cybersecurity changes to bolster their anti-fraud programmes. In response to the rise of online activity (and fraud) in 2020, the 2021 fiscal year should see businesses make ever greater investments into antivirus, anti-malware and anti-fraud measures to secure their online stores, payment systems, financial data and customer information.

What has changed?

The pandemic has left consumers more exposed due to the growing need for online shopping and banking, while workers are being forced to do their jobs online. This means that individuals are inputting personal information to more sites, apps and platforms that could expose them to more frequent threats of online fraud, malware sharing and identity theft.

The increase in online shopping, digital banking and internet activity has allowed many businesses to move their operations online and continue to succeed. This has helped save many organisations facing struggles during the beginning of the pandemic. Unfortunately, this means increasing their fraud risk by conducting more business over the Internet, such as sharing financial information online, having employees work remotely or growing your company’s digital consumer base.

Fortunately, with the growing risk of online fraud to individuals and organisations, there has been incredible growth in cybersecurity awareness, attention and investment. Businesses, banks and families around the world are learning about the importance of securing all aspects of your online presence. Increasing the amount of personal, professional or financial information we share online means that there are more chances for opportunistic criminals to strike.

Experts have clearly stated that the top two risk factors increasing cybersecurity risk are the shifts in business operations and changing consumer behaviours. These changes are unavoidable at a time like this, but what we can do is exercise more caution and institute better cybersecurity measures across our personal and professional online resources.

Anti-fraud professionals suggest that the key steps are choosing good and reliable online platforms, having a secure VPN, changing passwords and access codes frequently and installing a protected file transfer portal for important personal, financial and professional documents. You may not believe anyone is interested in what you are sharing, but you never know what piece of information might be the key that opens up your online shopping, banking or work accounts.

There is always choice to be made when considering the level of risk that you are willing to face in a particular area and the scale of that potential risk’s outcomes. In this case, the sheer number of corporations, organisations, workers and consumers that are conducting their daily business online means that there are millions of targets to choose from – a smaller risk.

Now, balance that with the consequences of taking that risk if you become one of the unlucky victims of cyber fraud – massive consequences. From a shopping spree or transferring cash to identity theft or a customer database breach, there are so many ways that a hacker can make our lives difficult. It could take months or years to undo the damage caused by fraudulent online schemes.

Final thoughts

There is no question that more online activity means a greater risk that someone could steal that information and use it to defraud you or your organisation. It is critical for businesses to get ahead of the growing trend of using online platforms for (previously) in-person activities.

This means ensuring they have a robust and reliable anti-fraud programme in place, one that protects their interests and their customer’s information. Finding a safe place to spend your money online will always have growing value.

At MarisIT, we are committed to protecting South Africans and their businesses from the growing threat of cyber fraud. We offer a range of products and services designed to mitigate cybersecurity risks and keep your online presence safe and secure. For more information, contact MarisIT today.

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