The Covid-19 pandemic brought great shifts in all industries – even in cyber crime. Hackers quickly moved in the first half of 2020 to take advantage of the pandemic, bringing crimes involving impersonation up to an 84% increase from the previous year. As a consequence, over £58 million was stolen, according to UK Finance.
These scams were particularly effective as physical branches of banks were closed and other customer service options were reduced. Hackers impersonated banks, emailing, texting or phoning unwitting customers claiming to be either a bank, the police or the government. The victims would then be asked to pay a fee. Other scams involve criminals pretending to be IT departments, again asking for payment to fix a software problem – and instead gaining remote access to the victim’s device.
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to develop and organisations move into long-term remote or mixed working, impersonation scams will continue to plague consumers and businesses alike. From an organisational point of view, security teams need to ensure that their employees understand what a potential scam might look like. Similarly, banks and other institutions that may be impersonated need to continually be on the lookout for such schemes to protect their customers and reputation.
All it takes is for one employee to fall for these scams. With remote access to a device, a hacker can exploit the network or expose key data, exposing the business to operational issues, loss of customer trust, and potential compliance fines.
For security and business assurance, a tool like CyDesk can help organisations monitor their digital footprint. This not only includes their third parties’ cyber and compliance statuses, but also information on what is being said about the organisation on the internet and dark web. If there is chatter about a known impersonation scheme, businesses can then remind or re-train their employees on best practices if they are victims of an impersonation scam.
Criminals will continue to take advantage of any situation they can. However, with the right tools and information, organisations can combat any would-be fraudsters and keep their business secure.