Guiding consumers since 2009

Insurers warn of technology security risk

By Staff Writer
Google Street View, which launched in the country earlier this month and provides detailed imaging of streets and the exterior of homes, is the latest of a number of new media applications that present security challenges for millions of South Africans.

According to Christelle Fourie, Managing Director of MUA Insurance, the executive home and motor insurer, Google Street View allows anyone to view the security features of a home, such as spikes, electric fencing, walls and the entire perimeter of a property. "Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the types of technology they employ to plan a burglary and sites like these can actually aid someone in doing this."

Google Street View has already been criticised internationally for its invasion of privacy. A survey in the UK, conducted by myvouchercodes.co.uk, found that 57 per cent of respondents though the the street mapping service was an ‘intrusion' while 24 per cent said that they believed it was ‘a service for burglars'.

Fourie says Street View is just one of a number of new online websites that are putting people at increased risk. "Sites such as Facebook and Twitter invite people to disclose personal information such as what they are doing at that moment and where they are. People also post details such as holiday plans and when they will be away from home, giving criminals all the information they need to plan a burglary."

Facebook is already one of the most popular websites in South Africa, with 2.8m users, according to the latest survey by Facebakers, a portal that collates Facebook statistics on all countries. The website also recently came under fire for changing its privacy settings to make people's profiles more open, without properly informing its users.

Fourie says people should be careful how much information they provide when using social networking sites and who they disclose this information to. "Besides the immediate risks they are exposing themselves to by disclosing sensitive information, they could also be faced with increased insurance premiums in the future."

"Insurance premiums are based on a risk assessment of each individual. At the moment online activity is generally not considered part of an individual's assessment, however, with new online services launching all the time, insurers may soon have to start taking account of people's online habits."

She adds that the increasing popularity of smart phones in South Africa such as the Blackberry and the iPhone may also pose a major security risk for people. "Many of these phones have features such as Facebook, email and personal calendars built in without password protection, so if a criminal gets hold of one of these phones, they have instant access to sensitive personal information."

Fourie says people can take the following steps to protect themselves such as:
Make sure all features and applications are password protected on your phone
Regularly update your passwords and never divulge them to anyone else
Do not ever post your home address or any other information such as your home phone number online:

  • Make sure all features and applications are password protected on your phone
  • Regularly update your passwords and never divulge them to anyone else
  • Do not ever post your home address or any other information such as your home phone number online
  • Don't follow people you don't know on social media sites and block people from viewing personal information if you don't know them
  • Turn off any location-based applications unless absolutely necessary

Recent Articles

Featured Times are tough, but keep your debt under control

While the whole world is going through a rough patch, you may also be feeling the pinch. With the country in crisis, it may be difficult to keep up with your debt instalments. However, abandoning your debt obligations is not the solution.

Debt Series Part 2: Interest rates - unpacked

In the second part of our Debt-ucate series we explore interest rates –from how to get a better rate to what influences it, and how this affects the cost of your debt.

Debt counselling – the two sides of the coin

Being overindebted doesn’t just put a strain on your personal finances; it also puts a strain on your state of mind. The best solution is to start the process of debt counselling so that you can escape the debt cycle. But what are the ups and downs of joining this debt relief programme?

Travel ban – how to claim for the loss incurred

As with the recent Covid-19 pandemic, governments sometimes issue travel bans to prevent people from travelling to other countries. This becomes even more complicated if you’ve already planned and paid for your trip. Your flights will be cancelled, and you may lose money from cancelled accommodation arrangements. How do you claim for the financial losses incurred due to a travel ban?

Deals

Get 30% back when you fill up with your Absa card

Price: Available on request
When: Daily
Where: Nationwide

Get 50% back in eBucks when you apply for an FNB home loan

Price: Available on request
When: Daily
Where: Nationwide

Get 50% off your online fees when you pay with Capitec card

Price: Available on request
When: Daily
Where: Online