New scam hits SA: Dodgy push notices on your phone

Business Insider SA
  • Thousands of South Africans are receiving unwanted "push" notifications on their phones.
  • These notifications sometimes direct you to potentially dangerous websites.
  • The good news is it's easy to get rid of these unwanted push notifications.
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Thousands of South Africans are receiving unwanted "push" notifications on their phones – which at the very least is annoying, but at worst could rob you of money or your personal data.

Push notifications allow websites to send alerts to your phone. These kind of notifications are popular for breaking news, with many media news sites sending alerts to subscribers.

You must subscribe to receive push notifications online. But criminals are building copycat sites that look like reputable platforms, and you may in fact be subscribing for harmful push notifications.

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“While originally (push notifications) were meant as a tool for rapid information of users on breaking news, today they can be exploited to target shell websites visitors, filling their devices with unsolicited ads and sometimes links to potentially dangerous websites,” says cybersecurity firm Kaspersky's Artemy Ovchinnikov.

“To achieve that, users are hoaxed into subscribing to notifications, for example, by passing subscription consent off as some other action. The victim ends up subscribed to ad deliveries, while at the same time quite unable to get rid of the annoying messages, being unaware of their source or origin."

In the past month, Kaspersky has intercepted more than 181,000 of these unwanted push notifications to South Africans. 

The good news is it's easy to get rid of these unwanted push notifications, you don’t need specific coding skills, says Ovchinnikov. You can turn pushes off by changing your browser settings.

How to remove notifications in Google Chrome
  • Click the menu icon (the three dots in the upper right corner of the browser).
  • Select Settings.
  • Scroll down the page that opens and click Advanced.
  • Among the options, go to Site Settings.
  • Open Notifications.
  • Under Allow, click the three-dot icon next to the address of the website from which you do not want to receive notifications.
  • Select Block.

Find out how to turn off push notifications on other browsers here.

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You can also install a security solution on your device and avoid getting annoying notifications or scam ads by making sure you are not redirected to a fake website when you subscribe.

“Where possible, block all subscription offers, unless they come from popular and trusted websites," says Ovchinnikov. 

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