Business Technology

Tricks of the trade to avoid cyber scammers

5 min read

22 February 2016

In an increasingly digital age, owners and managers of small and medium-sized businesses must be aware of the cyber risks out there and the techniques to prevent damage.

According to PwC, as threats continue to mount, understanding and managing cybersecurity risks have become top of mind for business leaders, and with firms having faced a 38 per cent increase in cyber threats between 2014 and 2015, bosses need to implement notable measures to secure their data.

Increasingly, businesses are adopting innovative technologies like cloud-enabled cybersecurity and big data analytics. But has the response till now been enough?
With that in mind, we created a guide for small business owners on how innovative organisations are currently addressing this challenge.

Recognise the most common forms of cyber scam

The NatWest Fraud team recently unveiled some tips on how to recognise cyber scams. It claimed the three most common types were data breaches, reputation damage and email fraud. 

The latter, the team said, was more easy to identify.

Encouraging employees to be naturally suspicious is one simple yet very effective way to combat email fraud,” the company said. “Questioning each request for payment or an information change, can soon weed out fakes.”

It was also suggested that having a specific documented process to list known valid phone numbers to check authenticity: “Any requests outside of that procedure, especially if received by email, should be regarded as suspicious. If this is the case, contact should be made with the person sending the email verbally, using a known contact number from their internal records, to confirm the request.”

Despite huge media interest around big data breaches, research shows 52 per cent of Britain’s SMEs are not taking any preventative measures. This statistic comes from CSID research, which also suggested two thirds did not have a disaster recovery or business continuity plan in place.

Read more about cyber crime:

Carrying out an information risk assessment is an example of an organisational security measure, but you will probably need other management and measures as well. You should aim to build a culture of security and awareness within your business.

As for brand reputation, registering the right domain name, Facebook page and Twitter account can ensure your company brand is not faked by others. The NatWest team also stressed that policies should also be implemented to ensure employees manage company and personal social media accounts responsibly. 

Know how your business operates in order to protect it

Fraud prevention systems can be both expensive and difficult to implement, so be practical and proactive by talking about fraud with employees and reviewing the areas where they could be targeted.

Furthermore, the Metropolitan Police’s “Little Book of Scams” offers two pieces of advices that should be noted by all bosses.

Businesses need to be skeptical. It suggested: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always approach deals, opportunities, documents, transactions and information with an inquiring and questioning mind.”

Similarly, it was noted that by having a thorough understanding of your business – such as how it operates, how you employ staff, your target market and legal obligations – it would further help you detect when something goes wrong.

It went on to say: “Understanding who you do business with will help identify occasions where a seemingly ordinary business request or transaction looks out of the ordinary for that customer or supplier and may potentially be fraudulent. Conduct due diligence using a risk based approach.”

This, in turn, will help you identify areas where your business is vulnerable to fraud.

The PwC research, however, noted that scepticism shouldn’t exclude those working within the office given that employees are the most cited threat, while threats from business partners increased 22 per cent.

For more help, why not try watching “Secrets of the Scammers” on Channel 5, which reveals how experts steal cash.

The recent news that cybercrime is to be reported as a separate category shows how online crime has increased over the last few years. We talked to Digital Shadows founders Alastair Paterson and James Chappell about how their different approach to cyber security may be the UK’s needed solution.