Small businesses urged to be vigilant about scams

NBN scams, scammers

On the occasion of Scams Awareness Week, taking place during 8-12 November, MYOB is reminding small businesses to constantly be on the alert for fraud scams. According to their latest research, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) received over 67,500 cybercrime reports in the latest financial year, an increase of nearly 13 per cent on the previous financial year. The ACSC also noted that a cyber attack occurred every eight minutes in the financial year 2020-21, an increase from one every 10 minutes in the previous year, with a majority categorised as “substantial” in impact.

MYOB’s Head of Information and Cyber Security Peter Wolski said that across the board, customers have felt and are highly concerned about the impact of the rise in scams targeting small businesses.

“The two types of scams we have seen on the rise and concerning for any small-business owner, are business email compromise and ransomware scams,” Wolski said. “All businesses can be targeted, but particularly those where money moves around in large quantities can be attractive to criminals, such as in the real estate or construction sectors.”

Scamwatch also reports that threats and extortion scams, including malware and ransomware, have resulted in losses of more than $10 million this year, with more than $3 million lost in the month of June alone. There have been more than 30,000 reports of threats and extortion scams and more than 13,000 reports of hacking so far this year.

Of particular concern is the business email compromise scam, in which someone sends an invoice posing as a supplier, with different payment details, putting business owners at risk of sending money directly to those who have stolen the vendor’s identity. Ransomware is another cause for concern, with scammers encrypting data found on the network they hacked and extorts the small business that owns the data for money to regain access to such data.

“We know small business owners are time-poor, however, security is as critical for businesses as insurance,” Wolski said. The most important measure is multi-factor authentication on business and personal accounts, your email provider will have this option in their settings and it’s as easy as clicking a button.

“Also stay across the scams that are prevalent, like the change in bank details for a supplier,” Wolski added. “If you get a request for a change like this, take the time to call the supplier. That phone call can save you thousands of dollars.”