THE Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has warned the public against rising phishing scams, which are becoming a threat to the digital economic revolution.
The warning comes at a time when more people are embracing online means of doing business, whose adoption globally is being catalyzed by restrictions in physical movement and the need for social distancing, as part of measures to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The term ‘phishing’ refers to fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information or data, such as usernames, passwords and credit card details or other sensitive details, by impersonating oneself as a trustworthy entity in a digital communication.
“Potraz would like to alert the public of phishing scams that are on the rise mainly via e-mails and SMS,” Potraz director general, Dr Gift Machengete, said.
“The phishing emails usually come with attachments that contain viruses and once one opens the attachment the virus becomes active and infects the user device.
“The phishing SMSs come with short messages enticing recipients to click on and follow a hyperlink provided in the message.
“Once one follows the link their user device gets infected with malicious software that can be used to phish (steal) user credentials and passwords contained in the device.”
Such criminal acts expose users to high risks of having important information like usernames and passwords, bank details and PIN codes or private and confidential information stolen, said Dr Machengete. He urged members of the public to be on the lookout for phishing emails and SMS and to report any suspicious SMSs and or emails to competent IT personnel or service providers before opening or following suspicious attachments or links, as the case may be.
“Users should have their antivirus software regularly updated and should not open anything that has been flagged by the antivirus,” said Dr Machengete.
“Most importantly, don’t give anyone your security PIN under any circumstances, even if they purport to be from your bank or mobile network provider. Stay safe, stay alert, phishing is real.”