150 Essex Residents Fall Victim of New Hacking Scam

Computer security

Computer securityPeople in Essex have been warned to avoid a group of cold-calling fraudsters claiming to be from reputed technology companies.

Victims of a new hacking scam forced to pay hefty sums to remove fake viruses

In recent months, a new hacking scam has emerged in which fraudsters claiming to be ‘computer software tech support’ workers hack into people’s personal computers in order to access their bank details. The fraudsters contact people by phone and claim that they can fix an apparent fault on their personal computer if they can gain remote access to the computer. Oblivious to their motives, the victims proceed, only to be told they must pay a fee of £100 to £400 for the ‘service’. Unfortunately, the only ‘work’ that has actually been carried out is the installation of a fake virus, which can only be removed by paying the fee.

Most SMEs still underestimate the real risks of cybercrime

In the last two months, more than 150 people have been victims of cyber fraud in Essex alone, and these people have lost a collective sum of more than £60,000.The incidence of hacking into personal computers and stealing confidential data, such as bank details, is also a growing concern for many small- and medium-sized businesses across the country. In fact, the rise of cyber crime, which has been ongoing since the credit crunch, is responsible for a massive increase in reported crime in the last year.

Businesses should consider contracting IT support companies that provide security services, such as Essex-based Spiderweb Systems, to audit computer networks and set up defences to reduce the risk of hacking, phishing and other cyber-crimes.

Only a minority of SMEs view cybersecurity as a priority

In February 2015, the Cabinet Office released a news story warning that approximately one-third of SMEs were at risk of cyber fraud because of misunderstandings of the threats. Worryingly, according to the government’s Cyber Streetwise research, two-thirds of SMEs don’t believe their business is vulnerable to cybercrime, and fewer than one in five believed cyber security was a priority.

Businesses should also check their insurance covers cybercrime, because some businesses in Thurrock have recently been warned that their policies may exclude these types of crimes. Nick Alston, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, says business must ‘take reasonable precautions’ against all online fraud and cyber-related crimes, and this means having ‘sensible levels of IT security’ in the first instance.

Cyber crime rate in the UK continues to soar

In September 2015, figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed that the crime rate for England and Wales increased by more than 100 percent between 2014 and 2015. This stark increase is not because of a dramatic rise in overall crime: it is because the government has, for the first time, decide to include cyber-related crimes in its data – see the Independent’s report.

New data says many people exposed to cyber fraud

Between 2014 and 2015, there were just over five million cyber crimes involving fraud, which affected nearly four million victims, more than 50 percent of which incurred financial losses. Although there has been a marked drop in overall crimes in the U.K over the past 20 years, the inclusion of cybercrime data paints a much more dismal picture, suggesting that more criminals are gravitating towards cyber fraud as opposed to more traditional types of crime such as burglary and theft.

Don’t Become the Next Victim of Cybercrime

Anyone who suspects their computer may have been hacked should change their passwords immediately, or request their online bank account passwords to be changed as soon as possible. People should also be particularly cautious of anyone calling or e-mailing claiming to be a representative of a reputable technology company, even if the phone number or e-mail addresses looks legitimate. A recently reported phishing / hacking scam managed to fool thousands of people into thinking that they had been emailed by Lanchashire Police – few people will ignore an email from the police!

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