Cops reveal the most common cyber scams Australians are falling victim to – and how to protect yourself: ‘Everyone is at risk’

Cops reveal the most common cyber scams Australians are falling victim to – and how to protect yourself: ‘Everyone is at risk’

Aussie ‘mum and dad’ businesses have been revealed as the most common target for cyber criminals, with many falling victim to email-related scams.

In 2021/22 alone, businesses reported losing more than $98 million – or an average loss of $64,000 per successful breach – prompting the AFP scramble to pay back companies when it successfully retrieves the stolen monies.

The most commonly used trick by scammers is business email compromise, where cybercriminals hack into businesses’ email accounts or replicate them to create a fake email account pretending to be from that company.

Fraudsters then alter the bank and contact details on invoices before they are sent on to customers – redirecting salaries into their own bank accounts or tricking workers into revealing sensitive business information, the AFP revealed. 

Businesses reportedly lost more than $98 million in 2021/22 alone after falling victim to scams online (pictured, stock)

Cyber criminal networks based in Africa and Eastern Europe are behind the online scams, as well as domestic scammers and groups.

‘Cybercrime is the break-in of the 21st Century,’ AFP Cybercrime Operations Commander Chris Goldsmid said.

‘And for many in the community it is reimagining what a crime scene looks like.  

‘Whether your business is big or small, everyone is at risk, so it’s important to know what to do to protect your business from cyber criminals and stay safe online,’ he added.

AFP Cybercrime Operations Commander Chris Goldsmid (pictured) has urged businesses to stay vigilant against cybercriminals

AFP Cybercrime Operations Commander Chris Goldsmid (pictured) has urged businesses to stay vigilant against cybercriminals

Commander Goldsmid said anyone who is a victim of a cybercrime should report it immediately.  

‘If you believe you have been targeted, make compromised accounts secure and notify any impacted third parties,’ he said.

Businesses are urged to use the Australian government’s cyber crime reporting tool, ReportCyber, and contact their banks within 24 hours of realising the money has been stolen to increase their chances of getting it back.  

‘Businesses, especially mum-and-dad businesses, are the engine room of Australia,’ Commander Goldsmid added.

‘Business owners work hard and the AFP is working hard to protect them from the cyber criminals looking for an easy payday.’

The AFP, under Operation Dolos, has managed to return $45 million worth of stolen money back to businesses in the past three years.

TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR BUSINESS ONLINE: 

1. Don’t open links or attachments in suspicious emails or from people you don’t know and train your employees to recognise potential phishing emails.

2. Limit levels of access within your business to minimise risk and ensure access is revoked when employees change roles or leave the business.

3. Move away from simple passwords and consider using multifactor authentication and strong passphrases.

4. Always confirm account details prior to making any transaction.

Source: Australian Federal Police