One of the key goals of Cogebanque Plc is to digitise its services to ensure the quality and speed of service. However, the bank is also purposing to inform its customers to be aware of the risks that could arise if they are not cautious with how they use online services. That is why the bank joins the rest of the world to mark cybersecurity awareness month, October. The month drives collaboration between government and private industry to raise awareness about digital security and empower the public to protect their personal data from digital forms of crime. It is being observed under the theme “Be Safe Online.” As is the case globally, in Rwanda, cyber-attacks not only affect individuals. For instance, according to statistics by the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), in 2018, approximately Rwf289.5 million was stolen from financial institutions in the country in 22 cases of cyber-attacks recorded. Of the amount, said the Central Bank, about Rwf208m was successfully recovered from the fraudsters. A 2020 report by RIB also showed that the rate of cybercrimes escalated from January to March 2020 alone. Rwf25. 9 million was stolen by cybercriminals in 39 cases that the bureau investigated. As part of the awareness campaign, Cogebanque Plc is reaching out to its customers and the general public, tipping them on how they should behave using online services such as e-wallet, internet banking, cards for online shopping, among other digital platforms. According to Redempta Ingabire, IT Security Manager at the bank, a customer should avoid using internet banking when connected on the public internet because “they do not know who is hosting or stalking them.” “They should also avoid sharing credentials like username, password or pin, even if the person requesting claims to be Cogebanque staff,” she said. “Cogebanque will never request your credentials.” Ingabire urged customers to subscribe to alerts to get notified whenever there is a transaction request or any other activity on their bank account (balance alerts, transfer alerts,” adding that they shouldn’t respond to text, emails and calls directing them to perform operations using the online platform they use. Shopping online According to Ingabire, when a user is online, some advertisements can pop up and if clicked on, they can lead to cyber-attacks. “When making online purchases,” she said. “First make sure that the shopping website is using ‘Https’ and know if that site is trustable and credible by taking some time to research it. You should also avoid sharing your card number and Card Verification Value (CVV) information to anyone or website, unless you know and are sure of the website you are shopping from.” Ingabire also urged Cogebanque’s customers to verify the terms and condition of what they are accepting when shopping online using any of the bank’s cards. She added: “When subscribing to a continuous payment option, ensure that you understand the requirements, terms and conditions of that option. In case you encounter any issue, please call 5050.” Antoine Iyamuremye, Head of Marketing and Product Development at Cogebanque Plc, asserted that the bank usually briefs a potential customer on basic security tips, including not sharing their bank account’s information, before they can open one. “We have to educate our clients so that when we deploy new and advanced digital financial services like digital loaning, they will easily cope with them and remain secure as well,” he said. “Our duty is not only to publicise the bank’s products but also to educate those who approach us as well as the public.” Talking about how they reach out to customers, he said they send them SMS’s regarding any change and raise awareness through radios and TVs. Iyamuremye also advised people not to use debit cards connected directly to their bank accounts when shopping online but rather use prepaid or credit cards – an option he said is more secure. Digital financial service consumers speak out Benjamin Munyemana has been using Cogebanque’s digital services for five years. He said that when using internet banking, he makes sure that he stores his username and password safely and offline, logs out whenever he completes a transaction and avoids clicking on pop-up messages that appear on the page while doing so. “When I am using a card while shopping online,” he continued, “I have to know if the website I am going to buy from is legit. I have done research about it to see if there are other people who used it by reading their reviews. I also avoid saving the card number on the computer for use next time.” Munyemana urges people to double-think before doing anything online to prevent themselves from losing their money, as he is aware that cyber-attacks are on the verge nowadays. Annie Umurungi also uses a credit card while shopping online, as well as mobile banking to make transactions. She said she changes her pin often in months to ensure that, even when there is someone who might have guessed it, may not find it the same. “The other thing I do is to buy products from trusted websites like Amazon or Alibaba. With them, I feel secure. I do not buy from websites I do not know well,” she said. About Cogebanque Plc Cogebanque (Compagnie Générale de Banque Plc) is a Rwanda-based commercial bank, licensed by the National Bank of Rwanda. It started operations in 1999. It is one of the fastest growing banks in Rwanda and today has 28 branches, over 600 agents, and 36 ATMs across the country. These are supported by Mobile banking (USSD on *505# and Mobile App “Coge mBank”), Cards (Master cards, Smart cash & SafariBus), SchoolGEAR and internet banking delivery channels accessible through different media. Cogebanque has been serving Rwandan industries for over 23 years with innovative services to its customers and has positively affected the Rwandan economy. Cogebanque provides a comprehensive range of products and services targeted at corporate, SMEs and retail customers.