A LEADING tech expert has expressed his concerns over soaring levels of online fraud.
Chester based business leader Roy Shelton, the CEO of the Connectus Group, said he also feared the rising levels of attacks would soar higher as criminals seek to target those looking to save money during the cost of living crisis.
His warning comes after a report revealed that losses per person in the UK are currently far higher than in other leading Western economies, including the United States, Canada and Australia.
According to the Office for National Statistics just one in seven frauds are reported to the police or Action Fraud. Only one in 1,000 reports of fraud resulted in a charge in 2021 and more than 40 million adults in the UK – nearly three in four – have already been targeted by a scammer this year.
Commenting on the figures Mr Shelton, the chair of the Chester Business Club, said: “These figures are disturbing and deeply alarming. They clearly show the authorities are failing to win the ongoing battle against fraudsters – who are increasingly attacking their victims over the Internet. At Connectus we’ve made it our business for many years now to protect ourselves and our clients. But these new figures should act as a wake-up call for anyone in business that you simply can’t afford to let your guard down.”
“I fear the cost of living crisis will only make this problem more acute. But businesses looking to save money by cutting back in these areas may pay a heavy price in the future.”
Setting out how businesses can best protect themselves, Roy added: “Businesses can reduce the risk of fraud by focusing on the training and awareness of staff .
Be sure to carry out ongoing vulnerability scanning and penetration testing of the company’s network and IT assets such as printers/ wifi/ switches/ laptops/desktops. One device is often overlooked – the mobile phone, but this is a treasure trove for fraudsters to be able to access sensitive details linked to any business.
“Another sensible step is ensuring you have Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation which provide a best practice of how to protect your business, your data, your brand and also your customers and employees
“The introduction and mandated use of Multi Factor Authentication ( MFA) and forced password change policies are key. So too is protecting the company with improved IT/ social media and data management policies. These things alone won’t protect you from every risk. But, used together, they give you a strong chance of staying one step ahead of these sophisticated criminals whose actions may be taking place in the shadows, but which devastate and cripple businesses – and ruin the lives of owners and their employees.”
His comments were echoed by Jack Roberts, from SlothMove, a change of address business whose services help customers reduce their chances of falling victim to fraud.
He said: “The cost of living crisis is likely to have a doubly negative impact on scams. Money is more scarce for the average consumer, making frauds all the more devastating when they occur. Likewise, the increase in the cost of goods increases the likelihood and frequency of individuals performing scams.”
Jack said moving home can often be the first step towards a fraudster getting hold of your details. “The point of the home move provides a window into an individual’s life where they are vulnerable. A criminal can piece together the parts of your personal data, new bank cards, security pins, account information, which accounts you hold etc. With this they can launch more sophisticated and devastating frauds like taking credit cards out in your name, transacting property in your name and accessing your financial information for transfers.”