The leap in local digital usage has brought about a significant change in how business and networking are conducted. Whether connecting or seeking information through social media, banking online, remote working or shopping online, different segments of the population, including the laggards and the elderly, joined the digital bandwagon. The pandemic itself served to push this change in behaviour and habits, forever altering the rules of the game.

The e-commerce world grasped this growth opportunity and golden ticket to change consumer habits. The pandemic forced brands to change their e-commerce strategies to cope with the constant shift in consumer behaviour. It is estimated that 62 per cent of consumers shop online more than pre-COVID. For the previously non-digital individuals and businesses, this opened the door to a world of convenience and accessibility – but it also opened the window to cyber fraud. 

Cybersecurity has become even more critical. The protection of networks, computers, mobile devices, programmes and data from malicious digital attack has to be prevalent in every environment – at home, work, entertainment places and public areas. Cybercriminals know what and who to target. They change their modus operandi rapidly and frequently. The threat of hackers and cyber-criminals is real – whether for individuals, small enterprises, or large companies.

Customer information is the number one most valuable data category for attackers but there are also standards and regulations that businesses need to comply with. Compliance with these standards increases customer trust in a business and avoids fines and potential costs of fraud investigations and data recovery services. Companies, irrelevant of their size, should have a cyber security strategy in place.  Here are some basic tips that can help defend one’s business:

Don’t store credit card data on your servers.

Work with reputable third-party sales platforms.

Purchase high-end anti-virus and anti-malware software.

Opt for 2-Step authentication process.

Install on-site security cameras.

Make sure your employees know the risks and what to look for.

Human oversight must form part of a good defence strategy.

Test your systems and back up your site data regularly.

Keep your site updated with the latest security settings such as bug fixes and vulnerability patches.

Every time we make an online purchase, we send a multitude of personal data and sensitive payment information over the internet. Being aware of cyber tricks is the first step towards protecting yourself.  Keep in mind these fundamentals:

Criminals post fake adverts for products we want and need, like medicines and hygiene products.

Criminals often ask for upfront payment and send harmful fake products or nothing at all.

If an offer is too good to be true, then it probably is. Only buy from trusted sources and use safe payment options.

Shop with brands you’re familiar with or have used before and check the ratings of individual sellers.

Use the 3D secure safety feature and websites that use full authentication.

Do not send money to someone you don’t know.

Be careful with phishing, smishing or vishing. These are three different channels: e-mail, messaging, and phone calls respectively, where the customer is asked for personal data.  This is not the way that reputable businesses or banks ask for personal or financial information.

Think before you click on suspicious links or open attachments.

Use strong passwords, at least eight characters long, containing upper and lower characters, numeric characters and special characters.

Never use known data or sensitive data as your password such as date of birth, your child’s name or your first car.

Avoid the use of public Wi-Fi when making an online transaction or payment.

Both sellers and buyers should make cybersecurity their business. They need to keep updated with what is happening, get the necessary controls in place and mitigate cyber risk as much as possible for a safer online experience.

More information about cybersecurity is available on

Any views, assumptions or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

Gaetana Sultana, senior analyst, BOV Operational Risk Management Unit

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