With fraud being the most commonly experienced crime in the country, this year, consider making protecting yourself and your family from cybercrime and fraud one of your top resolutions.
In 2018 alone, there were 3.3 million fraud incidents, with 1.8 million of those (over half ) cyber-related. According to Citizens Advice, almost three quarters of us have been targeted by scammers in the past two years, and one in ten people know someone who’s lost money to fraudsters.
Such is the scale and extent of online fraud these days that anyone who uses an electronic device to bank, shop, or even communicate with people could be a target. Cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and complex, representing a significant risk both to businesses and to all of us as individuals. Cyber criminals are not simply after money – the bigger prize is people’s identities.
Top tips to stay protected at home and at work
Ensure your virus and malware protection is up to date on your computer, laptop, tablet and mobile phone (these updates usually contain fixes for the latest security holes) and take a cyber security course – we recommend https://heimdalsecurity.com/security-education-resources for home users and small businesses.
Never ever disclose your personal bank account, or card details to a stranger.
Never share your passwords or PIN details with anyone. Ensure you use complex passwords for each of your online accounts and email. Never use the same password for more than one account. If a fraudster gains access to your email account, then they will be able to access all of your other accounts with the same password. Consider using a Password Manager or Password Vault to generate and store your passwords.
Install multi-factor authentication (e.g. password plus a randomly generated code) wherever this service is offered, as this provides an extra layer of security. Email providers such as Gmail, as well as apps used by banks, retailers and social media sites all offer this feature. Many recent impersonation attacks could have been prevented with this extra step.
Never use public Wi-Fi services e.g. in hotels, airports, restaurants, trains etc. to access your sensitive accounts - always do it securely from your home network or use 4G. If using public networks, always turn-off file-sharing from your device.
Be aware of clicking on links in emails or opening attachments from unknown sources. Treat all unknown or unprotected emails with suspicion. Take care with ‘official’ looking emails and texts; they too can often be false.
Always double-check the email address. Many fraudsters register email addresses that look very similar to a real business to try and defraud you – maybe with just one subtle character difference in the email address. If you are at all suspicious, then do not call the telephone number in the email, establish the correct telephone number by other means and call someone to confirm and all the better if you know that person. At TWM, we will always be here and happy to hear from you if you are calling us to confirm whether an email or other communication from us is genuine.
Consider access restrictions and how much you ‘share’ with people and online. Be careful about what updates you post on social media - this is how some fraudsters identify when to send a scam email requesting your money. Research apps to determine whether they are safe before downloading, and think about what information and data you allow to be accessed by the app. Ensure basic privacy settings are in place for all devices that you use to access the internet and any social media accounts.
Avoid using auto-fill on your devices, and never store bank or credit card details on websites.
If you are a director, owner or trustee of an organisation consider endeavouring to ensure that any particular risks are understood by carrying out a cyber risk assessment specific to your individual business environment.
Take advantage of the security offered by transaction providers such as PayPal and major credit card providers, who provide consumers with a valuable ‘safety net’ against fraudulent activity.
Starting the New Year with a strong and healthy fraud protection plan in place
The New Year is the perfect time to evaluate protections already in place and prioritise security goals for the year ahead.
At TWM Solicitors, we are all too aware of the growing threat of cyber related crime and impersonation fraud to both our clients and to our business. We are committed to doing everything we can to assist in helping our clients keep safe. We have produced a guide for you to outline what you should expect from us at TWM and what you can do to assist us during your transaction to avoid either of us becoming a victim of fraud.
To find out more, or to request a copy of our leaflet ‘Cyber Security and your Transaction’, please contact us.
Alan Barrett: firstname.lastname@example.org
Matthew Truelove: email@example.com
Information contained in this article is necessarily brief, is not exhaustive, and represents our analysis of matters only up to the date of publication (cyber crime is of course a very rapidly developing and morphing area of crime). Working with your solicitor or conveyancer is very much a two-way street, and no matter how good and safe we aim to be, safety depends on all parties involved being equally vigilant, particularly in terms of the risk of your emails being hacked or you otherwise becoming a victim to fraud. If you are making a financial payment to TWM Solicitors, please first check the authenticity of the payment request or account details. We will not be liable for any losses that you suffer from paying monies to an incorrect account. In such circumstances, you should contact your bank immediately.