The crime period: are you ready?

This is the time of the year when the need to have cash on you is more important than ever. As you try to do all you can to look for money, criminals are not sleeping.

Today, I have received three phone calls and five phishing attacks. The attacks are so intense that some may find you off-guard. You cannot afford to get ready. You must stay ready and secure.

The healthy eating fixer

As consultants, part of my work is providing tele-advice to clients – I listen to my client’s challenges and provide an opinion on a phone based on the facts. Sometimes I receive calls on Skype, WhatsApp or cellphone. I receive and answer as long as the caller is part of my ‘whitelist’ of sorts.

I keep my phone close. I end up picking many other callers in the processes. Some are ‘bafere’ or fraudsters. As a cybersecurity professional, you take a risk. Do you make your contacts available online? Or you open clandestinely by putting your contacts offline. Since online is something here to stay, I decided early on, to embrace digital. Surely, because some people die while sleeping you cannot advise someone to stop going to sleep. Equally, you cannot stop people from flying or driving to work because of road accidents. All you must do is accept the risk but take precautions.

That is why you will find my phone, email, and details on-line. The higher the risk, the more the controls. And that is where I try to invest.

So today when I received the vishing email, (the telephone equivalent of phishing. It is described as the act of using the telephone in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft), in Webpodia speak, I decided to carry one just to know how these guys do it.

Caller: “Is this Mustapha?”
Me: Who did you call?
Caller: I called Mustapha.
Me: Wrong number.
Caller: Ok, Sir, I am calling from [Healthy meals that fight diabetes and other lifestyle diseases. We help people like you eat well meals that are healthy.]
Me: But those diseases are for people who have money to buy food in the first place. I don’t have money even for posho.
Caller: Is this Mustapha.
Me: I told you no, already.
Caller: Oh, ok. But if you get the money, and want to buy food, you need guidance.
Me: Are you buying the food. I can come now and test the food the right way.
Caller: No, we come to your home and cook for you… a five-course meal.
Me: Oh thank you, God. My prayers have been finally heard. Please come home right away, and bring the food. Also, come with the gas cylinder. You have already given me the appetite. So, how do I direct you home?
Caller: You first pay!
Me: Wrong number.

If you are not serious, you will receive calls from fraudsters or online marketers. Before you know it, you have confirmed your mobile phone. And these criminals could come to your home under the cover of service providers. By the time they are done, they have all your identity and it could be too late to rectify.
You have to be careful about the kind of information you provide via a mobile phone. Don’t speak freely to everyone who calls you. The recommended question to ask is “how did you get my mobile phone?” Depending on the feedback, you can end the call.
Also, this morning I received phishing emails, purportedly coming from my colleagues. Globally, phishing is one of the leading attack vectors.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2019. All rights reserved.

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