7 tips to protect yourself from malicious software, spyware

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Malware, spyware and key loggers are three ways cyber criminals use to obtain sensitive information from unsuspecting consumers.

According to the latest Digital Banking Crime Statistics report, more than half (55%) of the gross losses due to crime reported to the SA Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) occur online.

Gross losses is a term used in the banking industry to refer to the total loss to the consumer as well as the bank. It, therefore, includes instances where the bank had refunded the client.

Malware can be defined as any programme or file intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems without the user's knowledge.

Malware can include computer viruses, worms and Trojan horses.

A “worm” is a standalone malware computer programme that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers.

A Trojan horse is a type of malware that is often disguised as legitimate software.

Spyware is software that collects a person’s personal information such as credit card numbers, without the person knowing it is happening.

The information can then be sent to criminals without the consumer's consent where it can be used to commit fraud.

Key loggers are devices which will record every keystroke a user makes. Keystroke logging is malicious spyware that is used to capture sensitive information like passwords or financial information.

This sensitive information is then sent to third parties for exploitation by criminals. Some key loggers operate as a piece of hardware.

Tips from SABRIC to protect yourself against malware, spyware and keyloggers:

  • Avoid downloading pirated software, as it may contain malware.
  • Beware of fake anti-virus software that is offered for free, as it could contain malware.
  • Don't use the same passwords on social platforms and for internet banking.
  • Log off from the internet banking site after completing transactions.
  • Never use public computers to do internet banking.
  • Only use security patches from reputable vendors.
  • Use robust passwords including letters, numbers and symbols.

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