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ZACR warns of global cyber criminals targeting SA

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ZACR CEO Lucky Masilela.
ZACR CEO Lucky Masilela.

The administrator of SA's .za domain name, the ZA Central Registry (ZACR), is warning of an increase in the number of international cyber criminals targeting the country, as it slowly emerges from the hard COVID-19-induced lockdown.

ZACR says increasing connectivity during the lockdown came at a cost as more people attracted the online attention of local and international fraudsters.

It says as South Africans sought digital ways to stay safe and be productive, their vulnerability to online criminals also increased.

The co.za namespace experienced tremendous growth in 2020, powering over the 1.25 million registered domains mark during SA’s initial COVID-19 hard lockdown.

This, ZACR says, suggests South Africans are increasingly snapping up .za domains to help them launch businesses, pursue study and entertainment opportunities, secure their digital identities and generally become more active online as transacting in the brick-and-mortar world remains challenging.

The latest caveat from ZACR comes a few months after it warned that Domain Name System (DNS) abuse had emerged as a threat to the continued stability of SA’s domain name ecosystem.

The administrator lamented the increase of these attacks across the country, saying SA experienced thousands of attempts at DNS abuse on a daily basis.

Yesterday, ZACR CEO Lucky Masilela said: “South Africans learnt how to sanitise and social distance last year and we also became much more cyber-savvy, which will serve us well in the future.

“Let’s keep our guard up as the economy opens up this year and remember not to randomly click on suspect links, keep our anti-virus software updated and don’t download attachments we are not expecting.”

ZACR urged South Africans to protect themselves online, saying: “Children and teens are set to spend more time online. Talk to your child about cyber safety and listen to their online experiences. Explain to them the importance of being just as safe online as offline.

“Gaming is growing fast in South Africa. Local gamers should protect themselves by being courteous and respectful online because online anonymity is not guaranteed. Smart hackers with axes to grind can find out the real-world identities of other gamers they feel offended them.”

Additionally, ZACR says, South Africans need to safeguard e-mail addresses by not distributing them carelessly all over the Web and protect themselves from malware and ransomware attacks by starting to use longer passphrases as opposed to shorter passwords.

“Keep your software up to date by allowing your operating system to execute its regular updates. Consider paying for an effective, brand name anti-virus solution. Guard against intrusion by fake e-mails, software plug-ins and add-ons that wish to gain illegitimate access. Think carefully before you click on any link or attachment you are not expecting.”

ZACR is also urging cyber crime victims to report matters to the appropriate authorities.

“If a serious crime has been committed, you need to report it to the SAPS at a police station nearest to you. If you don’t want to report a crime, but would like to report possible online fraud or suspicious activity, you can use incident@cybersecurityhub.gov.za to report it to the national cyber security hub.”


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