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Cybercrime and Financial Crime in SA

The SA Sunday Times carried an article quoting research by cybersecurity company Surfshark which shows that SA was the 6th country globally for cybercrime in 2021. The better news is that, according to The 2020 UN Report on Trade and Development, fraud across the financial services industry in Africa has spiked, particularly in SA, but financial crime is on the rise. The cyber security company, Luno, estimates that financial crime leads to losses of $88.6 million each year in Africa.

Luno recently undertook a study in SA and reports that – “First, financial education levels tend to be lower in South Africa and combined with financial hardship caused by Covid-19, citizens are seeking good returns. Second, crypto is an innovative technology, so users are uncertain about how it works and how to protect themselves. Finally, personal data in Africa has not been well protected compared to Asian and European markets, even though POPIA was recently introduced in SA. This makes it easy for people with bad intentions to get hold of personal information.”

Meanwhile, the UNCTAD Cyberlaw Tracker released in February shows that despite some progress, many least developed countries (LDCs) still lag behind in cyberlaw reforms. This has negative implications for cross-border data flows, trade, and digitalisation. The Tracker shows that LDCs that have adopted privacy and data protection laws rose from 43% in 2020 to 48% in 2021, while those with laws on consumer protection online increased from 40% to 41%. While many developing countries (79%), including LDCs (70%), have adopted laws on cybercrime, fewer than half of the LDCs have legislation on privacy. SA has, of course, adopted its Cybercrimes Act and there is a fireside chat on that law on our website.

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