While customers bear some personal responsibility for avoiding scams, it’s also crucial that companies can be relied on to safeguard the data they hold on their customers’ behalf.
After all, the last thing you want is for any credit card details or your business’ email list to be stolen by scammers and used with malevolent intent.
It can sometimes be hard to identify scams, not least because scam types and techniques are constantly evolving, but also because scammers often use psychological techniques to make it less likely for people to identify a scam.
Scammers contact their targets via all sorts of methods: text, email, phone, social media, messaging apps, fake websites, or even in person. Regardless of the scam, or how it is presented, there are some established actions you can take to reduce the likelihood of being taken in by it.
Maintaining a healthy level of scepticism is no bad thing. Anyone contacting you legitimately will respect the fact you might need to ask some hard questions upfront before you are comfortable dealing with them.
Also, if you are asked for money or to confirm personal details, take some time to think before you respond. Very few situations are so urgent that you need to act straight away. If you’re not sure whether a request is legitimate, you could phone someone you trust to get an objective perspective on the situation, or Google the company’s details and contact them through their official website.
If they have emailed you, carefully check their email address - does it look suspicious or is it a slight variation on their business name (e.g. an extra character added in the middle - think @nike.com instead of @ni-ke.com)? Many banks maintain lists of known scams from people pretending to be bank staff. So it is worth keeping up to date with those as well (e.g. you can view BNZ’s ‘latest scams’ page here).
One of the more worrying approaches used by some scammers is blackmail, or demands for a ransom. In some cases this can involve claims that they have hacked your system and a threat that they will release information that is embarrassing or financially damaging if payment isn’t made, while in other cases they may demand a ransom to restore access to systems they claim to have taken control of. It is possible that your security may have been compromised, but in many instances these claims are bluffs, so don’t take all such claims at face value and get an expert to look into it.
If you have multiple staff using your online systems, now may be a good time to review the permissions you have in place. It’s easy to forget to update permissions when someone moves into a new role within your business, or to forget to remove their account when they leave. Undertaking regular account and permissions reviews, as well as having sound policies in place for how team members should store and protect passwords, is time well spent.
It goes without saying you should never open attachments or click on links you’re not confident are from a reliable source – you could be opening a Pandora’s box of malicious code ready to infiltrate your computer or personal device.
For more useful advice check out Consumer Protection NZ advice on avoiding scams.
And of course, always remember the ancient adage your parents might have told you: if it seems too good to be true, you’re probably about to get scammed hard.
In September this year, Auckland Transport suffered its second ransomware attack in a month when a group called Medusa threatened to release financial data it claimed to have stolen from the agency’s ticketing system.
The initial attack crashed Auckland Transport’s HOP card system, meaning top ups of customers’ travel cards and other HOP services had to be taken offline.
The agency responded promptly by getting their HOP card system back up and running within a short space of time. It chose not to bow down to the scammers’ ransom demands, apparently confident in the IT security safeguards it had in place to protect its customer’s financial details.
Despite making the news, Auckland Transport’s situation is an example of a business that could trust the security of its systems and therefore avoided a worst-case scenario.
Business owners are well-advised to employ the same general scam identification and handling tools in their day-to-day dealings that individuals would use.
With a chain being only as strong as its weakest link, and businesses being much juicier prizes for scammers due to the amount of personal data they might hold, businesses also need to make sure their software systems are equipped to repel cyber threats. This can avoid a worst-case scenario that gets a business in the news for all wrong reasons.
If you need detailed security advice there are many experts you can engage to help you put tools in place that are fit for purpose –there’s no one-size-fits all solution so it pays to consider your own business and the specific risks you and your users face.
Seekom employs a host of IT security measures to stay one step ahead of scammers, eliminate cyber threats and protect the data your customers trust you to look after.
Monthly IT and cyber security health checks allow us to identify any areas for security improvement and ensure we are sticking to best practice. We engage a trusted third party to run quarterly vulnerability scans on our software to meet our PCI DSS requirements.
On top of this, strict data use and security policies for all Seekom staff are in force and we are 100% GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliant.
All Seekom’s critical systems are behind a virtual private network as well as being cloud-hosted in Amazon Web Services, giving a double layer of security. Going one step further, secure credit card storage adds another layer of ‘armour’ to minimise the risk of financial data being hacked.
We regard scam protection and cyber security as a team effort, that’s why we’re busy behind the scenes, maintaining best practice and playing our part to provide a safe and secure software platform. For more handy advice, read our recent blog on playing it safe online with Seekom.
With all these measures in place Seekom’s premium protection offers you the peace of mind to concentrate on doing what you do best – making a success out of your business.
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