September 22, 2020

Financial service consumers cautioned against increased cyber-crime amid Covid-19

As more people rely on digital banking platforms to reduce human interface in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, some analysts in the some financial space have cautioned consumers to be wary of increasing cyber fraud.

According to some observers of the financial sector, there was an increase in cyber fraud in Ghana during the first three months after Ghana started recording COVID-19 cases.

Shortly after Ghana recorded COVID-19 cases, efforts were made to intensify social distancing as a measure to reduce the spread of the virus. The Bank of Ghana and Commercial banks had to innovate by migrating more consumers onto digital and electronic banking platforms.

This somehow opened the way for fraudsters who also designed illegal means to steal from unsuspecting customers.

Mr. Philemon Kwame Ankomah, the Chief Information Security Officer with the Bank of Africa, told Citi Business News these fraudsters normally send emails and messages embedded with malwares that expose bank accounts and ATM details.

“…So one of the most common approach observed over the period is what we term as spear phishing. This is where you will receive compromised emails similarly from someone you know. These emails that are targeted to deceive you and gain access to your systems have embedded links that request the customer or to click on certain links and this compromises their system.”

“After this, they are able to harvest your credentials and use them to harvest other activities. It is a sophisticated move being employed by hackers in recent times. This makes it difficult to know which report is genuine. So, we advise our customers that when you receive any email or instruction that requires you to give us information that is personal to you, always ensure to confirm from your branch,” he said.

According to reports by the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service, the country lost more than 200 million dollars between 2016 and 2018 on reported cyber-crime cases.

Security Experts warn that the figure is likely to increase by half due to how sophisticated cyber-crime has become. Even though financial institutions rarely report on cyber-crime to protect their integrity, the phenomenon is said to hurting the financial sector badly.

For instance, banks are required to procure international security standard devices to be properly categorized for international transactions. More often than not, these devices cost financial institutions fortunes.

Even though Mr. Ankomah says that the Bank of Ghana has undertaken several initiatives to protect the financial system, he explains that curbing cyber fraud in the financial sector also requires the commitment of the consumer in flagging suspicious messages.

“You should be able to know your bank properly, and how robust their systems are. As a customer, you are always welcome to ask questions about how safe you are if you use a particular application. Do you have strong authentication?” he asked.

Source: Business