A RECENT increase in scams targeting Queenslanders has led the Fraud and Cyber Crime Group to issue a warning to businesses and individuals to keep on their guard.
"In the last month we have noticed a dramatic increase in not only the number of scams circulating, but the sophisticated nature of these scams," Acting Detective Superintendent Terry Lawrence of the Fraud and Cyber Crime Group said.
"We are concerned and need to ensure the community is taking every possible step to prevent this from happening to them.
"The theft of personal and business data will continue. Whether these thefts be aimed at the individual or at larger organisations as part of strategic ransomware attacks, these crimes are highly profitable for criminals and will without question, continue to rise."
Recent attacks have included not only malware and ransom ware attacks, but attempts to steal identity (through phishing, hacking, remote access scams and document theft) and cyber attacks on business and government agencies.
"The offenders behind these attacks are relentless and while we continue to see the same scams reinvented or reinterpreted, there are always new ones that leave us very concerned," Acting Det Supt Lawrence said.
Malware and ransomware attacks are one of the most concerning, with offenders using tactics to trick you into installing malware software on your computer and allowing the scammers access to your files and to track your activities. Ransomware attacks target businesses, demanding money to "unlock" your files which they have gained access to and quarantined.
Identity theft continues to target businesses but more specifically individuals through phishing (links in emails), hacking (gaining access through security scams), and remote access scams (you allow a "helpdesk" to take control of your computer). Offenders stealing documents through traditional means - stealing credit cards and details from your mailbox, continue to be a threat.
"In the business sector "wire scams" have also been a recent concern for us. Wire scams involve scammers using legitimate email accounts (often representing to be a senior member of the business) and requesting transfer of money," Acting Det Supt Lawrence said.
Other business threats include hacking attempts on businesses through security gaps. Large internet sites with substantial consumer databases are targeted and details stolen and either on sold or the business held to ransom.
There are some simple steps we can all take to prevent ourselves.
Resources such as Scamwatch (www.scamwatch.gov.au) and Stay Smart Online (www.communications.gov.au/what-we-do/internet/stay-safe-online are recommended sites to keep up to date with current scams and threats. Both offer advice on how to protect yourself and what to do if you have been targeted.
Simple steps to adhere to include:
• Do not open attachments or click links in emails or social media messages that are unsolicited. Delete them.
• Be wary of any free downloads or website access. They may install harmful software without you even being aware.
• Keep your security up to date on your electronic devices.
• Never send money or give credit card, passwords, online account details or documents to anyone you do not know.
• Be careful of the information you post on your social media profile. A birthday, middle name and address can be enough for a scammer to build a profile on you and steal your identity.
Most importantly, if you have been the victim of cybercrime, report it to Cyber Crime Department.