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21% rise in phishing costs UK consumers £174 million

2016-01-19 07:55

According to figures from GetSafeOnline, a UK government-backed initiative, 2015 was a very good year indeed for cyber criminals, or at least that subset which sends out phishing emails.

Brit computer users spent the last year looking at 21% more fraudulent emails than the year before and, collectively, lost £174.4 million to them.

As a result, GetSafeOnline has partnered up with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, as well as other leading law authorities, to launch an awareness campaign designed to educate the British public about the dangers of phishing scams, as well as other social engineering scams such as fake phone calls.

And such a campaign is extremely welcome, given the fact that the year November 2014 to October 2015 saw a total of 95,556 phishing scams reported to Action Fraud (and you can bet the unreported total was a whole lot larger than that!)

To put those figures into some sort of context, research from GetSafeOnline shows that just over one quarter (26%) of all reported online crime victims say they have fallen prey to either phishing emails and/or bogus telephone calls.

More alarmingly, over 77% of all the types of scams that were reported were of the phishing variety with a further 12% being delivered over the phone.

Beyond simply stealing money and personal information, 29% of the reported phishing emails were also found to be delivering malware, either in the form of an attachment or through a malicious link embedded in the message.

As for lures, you won’t be surprised to learn that criminals continue to leverage popular brands and government bodies including Apple, BT and HMRC.

As for when the phishing emails arrive in mailboxes there isn’t much detail in general (I’d put money on late Friday afternoons being popular) but one interesting fact that came to light was the fact that the most popular day bar none was 21 October – can anyone guess what happened on that day and why it was relevant?*

Interestingly, while awareness of how to avoid phishing scams appears to be quite low, there is an acknowledgement of the issue among the public – GetSafeOnline reports that 22% of people are most concerned about phishing than anything else, a key reason why it is now looking to raise understanding with its campaign no doubt.

Speaking of which, Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online said:

Social engineering is becoming ever more targeted and personal, which is why it’s no surprise that the number of cases is on the rise

What’s worrying, however, is the complex nature of these scams and how they tap perfectly into feelings that make us panic – if we get an email purporting to come from someone we trust (such as our bank) about something that is emotive to us all (money) and then demand that we act urgently, it’s almost like the perfect storm.

That’s why we’re so pleased to be teaming up with the banks, City of London Police, Cifas and FFAUK to encourage people to think twice before they act and not to let panic override common sense.

If you have fallen victim to a phishing email, are a banking fraud victim or spot unusual activity on your account, contact your bank immediately in order to limit the potential damage. You can also contact Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk

*21 Oct was the day the TalkTalk breach came to light and shows how cybercriminals leverage the news to increase their profits

Source: 1592=p?/hctawytiruces/ei.gnitlusnochb

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