SINGAPORE (November 29, 2023) – With the holidays fast approaching, many scammers are getting ready to trap unsuspecting victims, resulting in millions of dollars lost by internet users. According to the FBI, the most common type of holidays scams in 2022 were phishing scams, including unsolicited emails, text messages and even phone calls that appear to originate from legitimate organisations asking for financial or login credentials.
As per the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore, phishing attempts surged last year, with a marked increase of 4.5% incidents compared to those of 2021. More than 80% of attacks targeted a bank or financial service, and 6,700 bank accounts that were found to be involved in scams ended up being frozen. Phishing was ranked the number one scam with 2,918 phishing links taken down by the Singapore Cyber Emergency Response Team (SingCert). The total cost of these scams amounted to more than $ 661 million.
KnowBe4 is the world’s largest provider of security awareness training, with a simulated phishing platform under their belts. The company has released its five highest priority cybersecurity insights to help protect potential victims against a range of dangerous scams during the upcoming holiday season.
- Exercise caution when clicking on links or opening email attachments, especially if they come from unfamiliar or suspicious sources. Watch out for emails (phishing), text messages (smishing), phone calls (vishing), or voicemails that try to trick you into revealing personal or financial information. Always verify the legitimacy of requests before providing any sensitive information.
- Verify before you buy. When shopping online, make sure you are dealing with reputable sellers and websites. Double-check seller reviews and ratings and be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. If possible, use a credit card or trusted payment platform that offers buyer protection, as this can provide some recourse in case of non-payment or non-delivery scams. Avoid clicking on links in emails or social media ads, rather navigate to the sites you want to buy from manually or bookmark them.
- Trust your instincts and think twice if something feels off or too good to be true. Take a step back, pause, and thoroughly scrutinise the situation or offer before making any decisions. Cybercriminals rely on rushed or impulsive actions, so take your time and think twice before sharing personal information, making purchases, or investing money. Teach yourself to be suspicious of any messages containing a “stressor”…something that tells you to act NOW! or else negative consequences will happen. Most professional messages, even if they need you to respond quickly, rarely contain “Do it now or else” language.
- Be particularly mindful of delivery note scams this time of year – those are phishing emails or texts pretending to be a delivery company requesting more information from you. When we order things online, we expect these types of messages and are more likely to click when we should not.
- Be sceptical of unsolicited investment offers, especially those promising guaranteed high returns or quick profit. Always research and verify investment opportunities before committing any funds. Consult with a licensed financial advisor or conduct your own due diligence to ensure the legitimacy of the investment opportunity and the individuals or companies involved. In addition, it is crucial to utilise strong cybersecurity measures, such as firewalls and anti-virus software, and regularly monitor your investment activities for any unusual patterns.
“Phishing remains the number one tactic used by cybercriminals for a reason. As humans, we inherently trust requests coming from people and institutions that we know. This is generally exploited by cybercriminals through spoofing email addresses and phone numbers,” says Stu Sjouwerman, CEO, KnowBe4. “Phishing is even more prolific during the holiday season as people tend to lower their defences. It is vital to stay alert of potential scams at this time of year. Keep these tips in mind to ensure a stronger cybersecurity defence for a safe and secure holiday season.”