Spike in online crime

Bothasig police have warned of a spike in online crime.

Bothasig police spokesman Warrant Officer Jacques Mostert said they had had several complaints from people who had noticed money disappearing from their bank accounts or who had bought things online but not had them delivered.

In one case, a woman had been conned into paying import costs for a “gift” that turned out to be counterfeit jewellery.

Bothasig SAPS advise members of the public to take these precautions:

* Use strong passwords, and don’t use the same one for different accounts. Change them regularly. Avoid writing passwords down and make them stronger by combining letters, numbers and special characters .

* Activate your firewall. Firewalls block connections to unknown or bogus sites and will keep out some viruses and hackers.

* Prevent viruses from infecting your computer by installing and regularly updating anti-virus software.

* Prevent spyware from infiltrating your computer by installing and updating anti-spyware software.

* Make sure your social networking profiles are set to private. Check your security settings. Be careful what information you post online. Once it is online it is there forever.

* Your cellphone is vulnerable to viruses and hackers. Download applications from trusted sources.

* Keep your applications and operating system, for example Windows, Mac, and Linux, up to date with the latest system updates. Turn on automatic updates to prevent potential attacks on older software.

* Use encryption for your most sensitive files, such as tax returns or financial records. Back up all your important data regularly and store it in another location.

* Wi-fi networks at home are vulnerable if they are not secured properly.

Review and modify default settings. Avoid using public wi-fi for financial or corporate transactions.

lBe cautious when giving out personal information, such as your name, address, phone number or financial information on the internet. Make sure that websites are secure, for example, when making online purchases, or that you have enabled privacy settings, for example, when using social networking sites.

lAlways think before you click on a link or file of unknown origin. Do not feel pressured by any emails. Check the source of the message. When in doubt, verify the source. Never reply to emails that ask you to verify your information or confirm your user ID or password.

* Call the right person for help. Do not panic. If you are a victim, if you encounter illegal internet content, for example, child exploitation, or if you suspect a computer crime, identity theft or a commercial scam, report this at your local police station.

If you need help with maintenance or software installation on your computer, contact your service provider or a certified computer technician.