To find the answer, you first need to know what cyber theft is and how it works. This article breaks it down into simple terms, so save it and share it with your friends and family to keep them safe from cyber theft too.
What is cyber theft?
We at Bidvest Insurance define cyber theft as the unauthorised transfer of funds from your bank account. This includes the purchasing of goods or services, by a third-party, who has gained access to your bank account or personal information by means of a cyber attack. We know you work hard to earn your money, and it’s awful being a victim of something like this, which is exactly why we introduced a new insurance product called Cyber Rescue.
How does cyber theft work?
Cyber theft works through the use of technology. As mentioned above, it often begins with a cyber attack. Let’s use the example of your social media account being deliberately hacked:
- You open a suspicious email and click on a link that goes to a website filled with spam and viruses.
- You don’t have adequate cyber security set up on your device, so a virus that records keystrokes infects your device without you even being aware of it.
- A hacker obtains your login details (your email address or phone number used to log in to Facebook, and your password).
- If you have two-factor authentication, it can act as a deterrent, but a determined and advanced hacker can bypass this too.
- Your Facebook account is used to make purchases inside the app, using card details that you’ve used before inside the app, and decided to store for the sake of convenience.
- If this happens in the middle of the night, you only discover a day or two later, when you need to make another purchase, that transactions have been charged to your card and you have nothing left in your bank account.
It’s scary to think that the devices and applications you use to make your life easier, also put you at more risk of having your hard-earned money stolen from you.
Is cyber theft a problem in South Africa?
Yes. Over recent years, individuals have become increasingly victimised in relation to cyber theft, particularly where email hacking is concerned, in order to lift other personal information. One of the most overlooked facts is that cyber theft doesn’t need to feature large sums of cash being deducted from your bank account: it can be lots of little transactions that you may not get notified of, like the R99 debit order that affected millions of South Africans across all major banking institutions in November and December of 2018.
Why is it so easy to become a cyber theft victim?
It comes down to life skills and education about money and technology. In South Africa, we’re not moving fast enough to educate everyone about staying safe online, which is why we at Bidvest Insurance take it seriously and constantly release new information onto our blog, so that you stay informed and updated. Our Cyber Rescue product is one way to cover you against the financial losses that may result if someone does target you with cyber theft.
One of our nation’s greatest downfalls is how trusting so many of us are, coupled with the reality that hackers and online criminals are constantly learning and becoming better at bypassing cyber security systems. For example, cyber criminals can manufacture or replicate a company letterhead when sending you ‘official documents’ so even if you try to make contact with an organisation by referring to the letterhead for contact details, you could be contacting the criminals directly!
What’s the link between cheque fraud and cyber theft?
It doesn’t automatically mean that a term featuring the word ‘cyber’ is exclusive to digital channels. There are composite scams such as fraudulent cheques that get deposited, sometimes using your bank account details. Fraudsters often contact the bank as if they were you, and request a refund, which gets granted, but then later the cheque in fact bounces because the credentials on it were fraudulent to begin with.
To combat this, and encourage South Africans toward digital banking, South African banks have begun to phase out the acceptance and circulation of cheques. As more banks roll this out, the opportunity for this specific type of scam to succeed is eliminated, but this doesn’t mean that you should let your guard down. Where one scam is roadblocked, others can easily appear.
Banks have also introduced more and more layers of cyber security checks and balances that request verification before authorising refunds and/or debit reversals.
How do you report cyber theft?
If you’re not yet a Bidvest Insurance Cyber Rescue client, you need to immediately report any suspected cyber theft to your bank, your platform provider (eg. Facebook Support, if you suspect that your Facebook account has been used in an act of cyber theft against you) and the police.
If you make the smart decision to cover your personal and household devices with Bidvest’s Cyber Rescue product, there’s a dedicated IT helpline you can call, both to help you diagnose a problem, and get advice from, on steps to report any cyber theft that may be found.
What impact could cyber theft have for you?
Reality is going to look different in every case of cyber theft. Even if it happens to you more than once, the circumstances could be very different in each incident. Here are a few scenarios to help you bring cyber theft into perspective:
- Direct online banking: if your online banking account ever got compromised, money could be transferred directly out of your bank accounts and into criminally-linked accounts or third party accounts, which cyber criminals often use to mask their own identity. This means your money for rent, groceries and car payments could get wiped out in seconds.
- Insurance: As a responsible adult, you probably have a range of different insurance policies. Chances are: you’ve listed your email address as one of the ways in which your insurer can contact you. If someone has access to your logins, they can make policy changes using a mobile app or desktop login, which could see more money being taken away from you, or your bank statements can be accessed and invalid debit orders can be set up to mimic your insurance debit references, or for amounts lower in value than what you would otherwise receive a notification for. Hackers can also change your beneficiary details and replace your current nominees’ banking details with their own!
- Online shopping: with your logins, a hacker could go into any shopping account you have and authorise a purchase of goods using card details that you may have stored within your respective apps. This is made worse if the hacker has access to your banking profile, to be able to authorise purchases using mobile apps or OTPs (hackers can change registered phone numbers within your banking profile once they have access).
- Gaming: whether it’s your shiny new video game console that lets you play online and face opponents in other parts of the world, or a simple game that you downloaded from your app store, you’re at risk of having unauthorised purchases made through your games and game-related apps.
These are only a few of the possible ways that cyber theft may affect you directly, but that’s why we created a dedicated helpline for our Cyber Rescue clients. By subscribing to Cyber Rescue, our clients get unlimited IT advice and help with understanding the context, if something ever does go wrong, and cover of up to R30 000 per claim, for cyber theft incidents.
Does Bidvest Insurance Cyber Rescue cover cyber theft?
Yes. Our cyber insurance product, Cyber Rescue, provides you with cover in the event that a theft of funds occurs from your bank account (provided such bank account is held with a registered financial services provider in South Africa). Bidvest Insurance also covers the unauthorised purchasing of goods or services, by a third-party, where it can be proved that access was gained to your bank account or personal information without your knowledge by means of a cyber attack.
How much cover does Bidvest provide for cyber theft?
If you get cyber insurance through our Cyber Rescue product, you’ll be covered for financial losses as a result of cyber theft, up to R30 000 per claim. You can claim up to twice each year, and take advantage of our additional device restoration benefit too.
What’s not covered by Bidvest’s cyber insurance?
In relation to cyber theft, specifically, Cyber Rescue doesn’t cover theft resulting from the act of you knowingly and/or willingly compromising your cyber security, by disclosing your personal login details to any third party, i. In this context, your personal login details include, but are not limited to:
- Device pins and passwords
- Email account access
- Banking card details
- Shopping account logins
This context of cover remains in place even if you’ve been a victim of cyber deception, but there are other benefits associated with cyber deception which makes our product unique and robust in its ability to protect you.
In addition, Bidvest Insurance Cyber Rescue doesn’t cover forms of fraud/theft which:
- Originate offline and are not executed entirely online eg. sim swaps, card skimming, dumpster diving and any other such physical means of obtaining your personal information
- Are naturally covered by your selected bank or financial services provider are also not covered by Cyber Rescue
- Occur on outdated operating systems or with outdated antivirus software (Cyber Rescue comes with a premium licence for antivirus software so that you stay protected)
- Involves any form of cryptocurrency
For more information on what’s covered and what’s not covered, leave your details on our product page so that one of our consultants can call you back.
Can you protect yourself from cyber theft?
It is possible to reduce your risk, but there is no way to live 100% risk free if you have an online presence, unfortunately. This is why we introduced cover that can help you withstand the financial burdens that come with being a victim of such horrible cyber crime. Not only do we provide cover, but we help you prevent the worst, too.
Bidvest Insurance Cyber Rescue clients get an antivirus software licence to help protect personal devices from known malware and other threats. Our device restoration benefit will also help you come as close as possible to restoring the state of your device after the event of cyber theft, to make sure that your device is optimally protected.
How else can you prevent cyber theft?
- Always check your bank statements and query payments that you don’t recognise. If you don’t regularly receive bank statements, speak with your selected bank or financial services provider to ask for help with setting up timely and appropriate notifications so you can access your bank statements regularly.
- Report suspicious transactions immediately.
- Only shop on secure websites that have “https” at the start of links, or show a closed lock icon in your browser’s URL bar.
- Be very careful about opening emails, giving out personal information over a telephone call or even SMS. Always click on the drop down menu option to show the full details of email senders, so you can verify the domain being used to send you an email or call/visit the respective institution to resolve disputes.
- Don’t get caught by ‘too good to be true’ deals that advertise products at well under 40% of the average retail price you find among other providers.
- Be careful about how you discard old credit cards – always cut them up into pieces and drop pieces into your trash over time, so that it’s nearly impossible for anyone to reconstruct them.
Chohan, S. 2019. Guard against cyber theft this holiday season. Independent online. Article online. 28 November. Available at: https://www.iol.co.za/technology/guard-against-cyber-theft-this-holiday-season-38110889 [Accessed 19 November 2020].
Frontier Internet. n.d. What is cyber theft? Web page online. Available at: https://www.frontierinternet.com/gateway/what-is-cyber-theft/ [Accessed 19 November 2020].
Kaspersky. 2020. Cyber theft threats. Web page online. Available at: https://www.kaspersky.co.za/resource-center/threats/petty-theft [Accessed 19 November 2020].
Moyo, A. 2020. More SA banks phase out cheques in digital drive. ITWeb. Article online. 23 July. Available at: https://www.itweb.co.za/content/mQwkoM6P195v3r9A [Accessed 19 november 2020].