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Cyber threats: Stay vigilant this festive period

At this time of year we are all busy and on the countdown to the Christmas break. During this period it can be easy for our guard to be dropped and for things to slip through the net. So we always need to be vigilant to protect our data. There are many threats to our online security from attacks and scams and we have detailed some of the more common examples below.

Change of bank details

Fraudsters contact a business claiming to be from an existing supplier and advising that the bank details for paying invoices should be changed. If you receive such a communication it should be scrutinised for authenticity. You should not amend any payment details until you are satisfied it is genuine. We recommend that details are checked by contacting the business directly using existing contact details you hold.

Bogus boss

The “bogus boss” scam is when a fraudster sends an email which purports to be from a colleague. The email instructs the recipient to make an urgent payment. The email continues to say something along the lines of ‘let me know when you are ready and I will send you the beneficiary account details’. If you or your staff receive an email of this nature speak to the ‘sender’ or a senior colleague to make sure the instruction is genuine before responding to the email or making any payment.

Student tax refunds

Thousands of university students have reportedly been targeted in a tax refund scam. The scammers were using seemingly genuine email university email addresses ( and branding to portray authenticity. However when a victim clicks the link it leads to a website asking them to enter personal details including bank details, which could then be stolen

Top tips to stay safe online

Here are our top tips to keep your details safe online:

  1. Change your passwords regularly.
  2. Use a long password which includes symbols and numbers – this can even be an expression or a sentence without spaces and punctuation.
  3. If you have a lot of online accounts, get a password management system such as Last Pass, which enables you to store all your passwords securely.
  4. Wherever you can, use “two-factor authentication”. In simple terms, this could involve a code which is sent by text to your mobile phone.
  5. Do not leave your password written down for others to see – it is amazing how many people do this is in a business environment!
  6. Never divulge your password to anyone.
  7. If you are contacted by anyone purporting to be from your internet provider, software provider, bank etc., ensure you ring them back from a different phone on the normal number before divulging the answer to any security questions.
  8. Train your staff and remind them of the importance of security procedures and controls when working online

Following these simple tips consistently will help you stay secure online. Remember if an email looks too good to be true, e.g. an unexpected tax refund, or is demanding an urgent payment; it probably is, so take a moment to check it before acting on it. Stay secure and protect your data and your business.


Andrew Picker



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