Tips on how to manage a hassle-free day-to-day online shopping experience

Hackers are doing the country’s already battling economy no favours. File photo.

Hackers are doing the country’s already battling economy no favours. File photo.

Published Jun 20, 2024


South Africa’s Information Regulator recently revealed that it receives more than 150 monthly data breach notifications – a considerable increase from last year’s average of 56.

Hackers are doing the country’s already battling economy no favours: the 2023 Cost of a Data Breach Report, produced by the Poneman Institute and published by IBM Security, states that the average cost to a national organisation is almost R50 Million.

At the same time, more and more South Africans are buying items online. Figures in the Online Retail in South Africa 2024 report, prepared by World Wide Worx in partnership with Mastercard, Peach Payments, and Ask Afrika, show the country’s online retail sector grew to R71 billion last year—a 29% increase from 2022.

Yet the report also states that despite the growth of online shopping, “concerns about personal financial security remain a significant barrier, with many shoppers wary of entering personal details online or fearing that online shopping is prone to fraud”.

It’s something of a Catch-22: while the ecommerce explosion brings so many benefits, criminals are always waiting to pounce.

However, according to Jacques Jordaan, Operations Manager at ecommerce ecosystem Bob Shop, consumers should understand that online marketplaces invest heavily in the latest cybersecurity measures to protect users’ sensitive information.

“The responsibility for ensuring the safety and security of data on online marketplaces falls on platforms themselves. Additionally, regulators also impose legal obligations on these platforms to maintain data security,” he explains.

As technology advances and stricter legislation like the Protection of Personal Information Act becomes effective, online marketplaces must increase data security measures to stay ahead of the market.

Some of these measures that Bob Shop have introduced include facial verification and other improved information verification tools.

“Consumers can typically find information about the data security practices in their privacy policies or terms-of-service agreements. They can also contact customer support for more specific inquiries regarding data security,” Jordaan says.

Jordaan says for users to ensure a hassle-free online shopping experience, they should take several proactive steps to manage and protect their data.

“We encourage users to use strong, unique passwords for their account, regularly updating software and security patches on devices, being cautious of phishing attempts and suspicious links, and reviewing privacy settings on online accounts to control data sharing,” he says.

“We have a dedicated team responsible for maintaining data security.”

Jordaan adds that customers must monitor their own statements for unauthorised transactions and report any suspicious activity to financial institutions promptly.

The Online Retail in South Africa 2024 report corroborates Jordaan’s sentiments on protecting consumers’ private information and payment channels.

It says it has become a necessity for businesses to invest in robust security measures and transparently communicate these protections to build consumer trust.

“Many consumers need to feel a strong trust in online retailers. This suggests that transparency, consistent quality service, secure transaction processes, and robust privacy policies are critical for cultivating consumer trust and encouraging repeat business,” he says.