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Tuesday 22 January 2019
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Online transactions could breed for prying eyes

Transactions have never been easier than they are nowadays. Online transactions are one of the most convenient things that modern technology has afforded the world. For those who do not like the hassle of lining up in long queues, making their transactions online is the best alternative to banks and other public venues.

The Payments Association of Namibia (PAN) indicates that their financial market infrastructure consists of the various systems, networks, and technological processes that are necessary for conducting and completing financial transactions. The national payment system comprises of modern infrastructure to transfer money between customers, suppliers, merchants, banking institutions and countries, including the use of payment instruments, such as card, cheque and EFT payments.

This makes transactions much more convenient, however with the convenience of making transactions in the comfort of one’s house or wherever they find themselves,  comes with a compromise of their banking accounts and financial transactions by countless prying eyes.

Most recently there have been claims of people whose accounts were hacked and their bank accounts emptied within seconds by unknown people. FNB Namibia also confirmed that a very limited number of their retail customers have experienced card fraud on their accounts in the last few weeks.

An online transaction, also known as a PIN-debit transaction, is a password-protected payment method that authorizes a transfer of funds over an electronic funds transfer (EFT). Standard Bank’s Public Relations and Communications manager Surihe Gaomas-Guchu says that online transactions are electronic forms of payment a customer makes for goods and services and is increasingly becoming popular. “There are usually various types of online transactions ranging from Internet Banking and Mobile Banking. Swiping at a Point of Sale Device with your credit or debit card is also referred to as online transaction,” she explains.

Nothing beats the convenience of making transactions in the comfort of one’s own home. Online transactions are quick and generally better than queueing up in banks. Surihe says that cashless forms of transactions are platforms which not only cut down on transactional costs, but it is also safe and convenient. “Practically, you have banking at your fingertips which means you can do your online transactions anytime, anywhere. In this fast paced world, a customer can pay their accounts through electronic banking as opposed to walking into a branch or carrying large sums of cash, ultimately falling victim to theft.

On the issue of convenience, one has the ability to do your banking from the comfort of your home or workplace, without having to go into a branch. One can also transfer money from your transactional to your savings accounts through inter account transfers and also make electronic payments on a 24/7 basis. It is all about banking on the go,” she mentioned.

The Online C Mag reveals that the databases store all user data and account information, which could lead to financial and personal problems if these servers are hacked. The article emphasized that these online transaction systems impose processing costs on the buyers and sellers as well. Also, the fundamental of operation of online transaction systems is atomicity. Atomicity ensures that if any step fails in the process of the transaction, the entire transaction must fail, due to which the same steps have to be repeated again and again while filling forms which causes dissatisfaction among buyers.

Keeping safe
Just as shoppers need to take security measures when shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, online users should also be aware of the risks involved when it comes to online transactions.

With the data breaches and incidents of hacking and fraud becoming common, there is a need for people to protect themselves against likely attacks that could threaten their privacy. There are a variety of ways that can be used to invade a user’s privacy, and it’s more likely that a user may run into threats such as phishing, online scams, spam, Internet fraud, and malicious URLs.

The Namibian payment industry has adopted the international standards of Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) to safeguard card transactions against fraud. Furthermore, the EMV standards involve technological changes to card, ATM and POS devices. The implementation of both these standards require infrastructure changes to banking institutions’ current ATM and POS networks.

According to an article written by Trend Micro there are many ways in which people can secure and maintain their privacy when doing online transactions. The article states that it is important to always double check URLs as cybercriminals can easily replace payment pages and apps with fake ones. One way to tell if a site is secure is by checking the security lock indicator (HTTPS instead of HTTP). The former means a secure one. Also make use of official apps and avoid third-party apps for secure transactions.

In addition, the article advises users to always use strong and secure passwords as attackers can easily hack online accounts including banking and social accounts. Since these accounts contain sensitive and personal details, it’s important that they use unique hard-to-crack passwords across all devices and change them regularly.

It is also safe to use a secure network especially when using mobile devices to pay. Ensure that you are using the official payment app, and that you’re accessing a secure and private network.

Surihe however states that despite several incidences of cybercrime, internet banking or online banking still remains one of the safest methods of banking. “We therefore encourage banking clients to make more use of electronic payment methods. Always keep in mind when making payments that the account is correct and always monitor your accounts regularly for any incidences of fraud. This requires a customer to be vigilant and alert at all times. If you happen to detect any fraudulent transactions on your account, please contact and notify your bank immediately. It is always good practice to log out immediately of your online banking session when you have finished your transactions. This will lessen the chances of falling prey to potential fraud. Last but not least, always keep your password or pin safe by rather memorising it and not writing it down,” she concludes.




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