Internet Fraud On The Rise: Staying Ahead of Cyber Criminals In A Digital Age

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The advent of the internet presented limitless opportunities to everyone in terms of interconnectedness, seamless communication, speedier business transactions, and access to entertainment sources, among others. The internet has undoubtedly become an integral part of our lives. If by some turn of events it were to disappear today, the blowback would be catastrophic.

Nonetheless, typical of many good things, there are downsides, and Ghana, like several other countries, has not been immune to these pitfalls, the prime one of which is cyber fraud.

Cyber fraud, also referred to as internet or online fraud, constitutes the use of electronic means to undertake illegal activities such as phishing, credit card fraud, identity theft, investment, romance and shopping scams, and many others.

October has been designated as the National Cyber Security Awareness Month in Ghana. During the media launch on Sunday, September 3, 2023, the Director-General of the Cyber Security Authority, Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, announced that between January and June this year, GH¢49.5 million in direct financial losses were recorded as a result of internet fraud activities. The losses are believed to far exceed the figure which does not constitute unreported cases.

Cyber fraud has devastating effects, including crippling financial burdens to individuals, businesses, and the government, promoting a culture of mistrust and insecurity on digital platforms, privacy invasion, and emotional turmoil.

While the appropriate agencies attempt to combat this cancer, it is imperative to stay guarded as an individual because ultimately, your internet security largely depends on you.

Here are some of the ways you can do this:

  • Use Strong and Undecipherable Passwords and PIN codes: If you are still using 1234 or your date of birth as your password, then this is a wake-up call to do better. A strong and unique password should include lower and uppercase letters, numbers, signs, and symbols, or special characters. It is also not advisable to use the same password for every account you have. Do not make it too easy for yourself to fall victim to internet fraudsters.

  • Use Two-Step Verification: Add an extra layer of protection such as a fingerprint, text message, generated codes, etc. to your security measures. It has become common for people’s social media accounts to be hostilely taken over by internet criminals. Protect your WhatsApp, Instagram, Telegram, and other social media with this feature.

  • Limit What You Share on Social Media: It is easy for cybercriminals to trap some unsuspecting individuals because they simply share too much of their information with the rest of the world. Certain personal information such as photos of IDs, addresses, children’s information, travel plans, etc. are called personal for good reasons.

  • Know When Phishing Comes Knocking: Phishing involves deceptive emails and messages that on the surface look legitimate because they purportedly are from companies. They are designed to trick people into revealing personal information such as credit card and login details, and Social Security numbers, etc. Do not be too trusting but rather, stay skeptical and always verify the credibility of emails, messages, and their senders. Also, be wary of suspicious links, especially those with a missing “s” in the https:// of their URL.

  • Use Secure Wi-Fi Networks: Apart from generating strong passwords for your personal Wi-Fi, desist from tapping into public Wi-Fi for sensitive activities such as financial undertakings or e-commerce.

The internet has been revolutionary. While you make use of it, do not forget to protect yourself. Stay safe online.

Source Agyei Kwarteng Mensah

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