KnowBe4, the global provider of the most extensive security awareness training and simulated phishing platform has revealed its main cybersecurity advice to help safeguard individuals from dangerous scams in the 2023 holiday season.
The increasing number of threats like phishing and payment and investment scams create potential risks during the festive holidays. People continue to fall prey to these scams each year, resulting in significant financial losses.
According to reports from the FBI, the most prevalent scams in the last year were phishing schemes, including phishing via voicemail (vishing) and SMS (smishing). These fraudulent activities involve unsolicited emails, text messages and phone calls, convincingly disguised as legitimate companies that request personal, financial or login details.
Among the favourite tactics used by cybercriminals are non-payment and non-delivery scams. The former happens when a buyer pays for goods or services online but never receives these items, while the latter involves shipping of goods or services, but the seller is never paid.
Fraud continues to be an ever-growing problem, as the Australian National Anti-Scam Centre reports. In 2023, over 250,000 scams have been reported so far, accounting for a total loss of more than AUD $429 million.
Phishing holds the top spot regarding the types of scams received, accounting for over 90,000 reports and leading to over AUD $25 million in losses. However, investment fraud has resulted in the highest financial losses, totalling AUD $259 million this year.
To protect end users against such scams, KnowBe4 has shared its top five cybersecurity tips for the 2023 holiday season. These are: to exercise caution when clicking on links or opening email attachments from suspicious sources; to verify before buying online and ensure reputable sellers and websites are being used; to trust your instincts and scrutinise any situation or offer that seems off or too good to be accurate; to be wary of delivery note scams, especially during the holiday season; and to be sceptical of unsolicited investment offers that promise guaranteed high returns or quick profit.
An additional recommendation from KnowBe4 is to remain updated and educated. This involves staying informed about the latest scams and techniques used by cybercriminals and regularly reviewing guidance from trusted sources such as law enforcement agencies, cybersecurity organisations, or consumer protection agencies.
Stu Sjouwerman, the CEO of KnowBe4, explained: "Phishing remains the top tactic used by cybercriminals for a reason. As humans, we inherently trust requests coming from people and institutions that we know."
"This trust can be exploited by cybercriminals through spoofing email addresses and phone numbers."
"Phishing is even more common during the holiday season, when people often lower their guard. It is crucial to remain alert to potential scams during this time of year. Remember these tips to enhance your cybersecurity defence, ensuring a safe and secure holiday season," said Sjouwerman.