Growth of cashless transactions increases cybersecurity threats

Enacy Mapakame Business Reporter

Zimbabwean businesses are not immune to cyber security threats with the financial services sector facing heightened cyberattacks following adoption of digitalisation which was spurred by Covid-19 pandemic, an expert has said.

In an interview, Liquid Intelligent Technologies regional chief executive officer for Central Africa, Mr Wellington Makamure, revealed that as transactions increasingly become cashless, cybersecurity threats were also rising.

Cases of card cloning, identity theft, data breach, phishing, spam and personal data leakages have been experienced, creating scope for businesses to invest more towards plugging the possible loopholes.

“As Zimbabwe moves more towards being a cashless society, the finance sector is facing an increasing amount of cybercrime, including phishing and bank card cloning — both of which are on the rise.

“As more and more young people spend time online, the conversation about data privacy and security at a personal level is becoming more pronounced as we can see from incidences of personal/private data leakages,” he said.

Apart from the financial services, other businesses have also seen the prevalence of cyber security with an estimated 82 percent of businesses saying they have experienced threats as cybercriminals take advantage of the growing digitalisation to attack digital infrastructure.

The use of multiple devices from various locations on different networks as people work from home since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic also expose businesses to cyber security threats such as data breach.

The problem is not only in Zimbabwe but prevalent across the region.

According to a Cyber Security Report 2021, which shows the state of the threat in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe, the most common cyber security threats cited were malware, web-application attacks, email phishing and impersonation, identity theft, data breaches and denial of services.

For Zimbabwe, the businesses also cited email attacks and social engineering as top of their worries around cyber security.

Of the surveyed businesses, 75 percent of them said they used cloud based services. However, they also expressed concerns around cloud based services citing data loss and recovery, managing user access to information as well as compliance challenges when data and services reside in other jurisdictions.

Mr Makamure said more needed to be done to increase awareness on cyber security at individual and organisational level.

“There is a need for increased awareness at every level about data privacy and security. There is also a need for increased investment in cyber security by organisations.

“Businesses need to stop seeing IT as cost centres. It is no longer the time to be ignorant. Everyone who goes online for business or personal reasons needs to be vigilant,” he said.

He highlighted some of the solutions that can be used to keep data protected and privacy, which include anti-virus software, firewalls, secure email, password managers and cyber security solution suites.

“All users need to keep themselves updated on cyber security best practices and open up to learning and training as a way of strengthening your digital privacy.

“There are many tips and tricks you can learn online and add to your security arsenal including using strong passwords. Don’t use the same passwords across multiple accounts, keep your apps up to date and don’t ever give out personal information,” he said.

Recently, Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world to commemorate the International Data Privacy Week (January 24– 28 2023) aimed at raising global awareness about online privacy and educating users on how to manage personal information and keep it secure.

This comes as millions of people are unaware of how their digital activity and personal data are being collected and shared with large corporations. 

International Data Privacy Week gives the power to control privacy back to the users.

Said Mr Makamure: “With cyber threats constantly increasing and hackers targeting corporations, SMMEs, NGOs, governments, emergency services and individuals daily, taking steps to ensure our digital privacy and digital security has never been more important.”

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