Over the last 13 months, Gloucestershire Police has received reports of cyber fraud costing businesses in the county around £369,800, according to Olivia Crane from Cheltenham-based Charles Russell Speechlys LLP.
After more than a year of lockdowns, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s new Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020 revealed that fraudulent online schemes such as phishing scams have increased by 14 per cent, with attackers taking advantage of advances in technology, the increase in working from home, and people’s worries about Covid-19.
One of the scams involves cyber criminals posing as the World Health Organisation (WHO) by sending fraudulent emails and text messages in an attempt to spread malware, computer viruses or get access to money and sensitive information.
There have also been reports of a vaccination scam sending fraudulent text messages with a link to a fake NHS page which asks for personal information and credit card details.
But although phishing attacks are on the rise, so is the ability to recover from security breaches, with more organisations implementing cyber fraud awareness campaigns and engaging with cyber security, in order to identify and manage cyber risks.
After identifying that a third of all estimated crime in the UK in 2020 was fraud-related, the government also recently widened the scope of its draft Online Safety Bill to include user-generated fraud.
Despite the positive steps forward, Charles Russell Speechlys is encouraging Gloucestershire businesses to stay vigilant. With more employees working from home, they can be more vulnerable to cyber attacks when they are bombarded with phishing texts, emails and phone calls, so awareness is key.
If any business suspects that it has been the victim of fraud, online or otherwise, it should report the incident to Action Fraud and Gloucestershire Constabulary.