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Do email scams pose a real threat to businesses?

Posted: 15th September 2016


Yes, is the simple answer. The threat is very real as email scams become more and more sophisticated. The latest scams, known as ‘whaling’ are carefully targeted and very authentic looking. Cyber criminals are managing to con large sums of money out of businesses using the sophisticated scam.

Whaling involves genuine looking emails being sent to finance directors from senior managers or MDs. These emails request immediate payment to a supplier of a substantial sum of money. They appear authentic, are well written and very convincing. These are not random emails, they have been carefully researched by cyber criminals and are specifically targeted, unlike ‘phishing’ emails which are sent out to 100s of individuals.

Some of SortmyPC’s business clients have received such emails, so the threat is very real. Here are steps to reduce the risk –

  1. Verify the source of any requests you receive for your personal or financial details.
  2. Ensure the request for payment is genuine by speaking personally to the individual who has sent the email.
  3. Review the security settings on your social media accounts, cyber criminals can ‘stalk’ individuals to discover working relationships and your usual greetings/style of communication.
  4. Check that email signatures, company logos etc on the email are of the quality and format you’d expect.
  5. Ensure your anti virus software and firewall are up to date.
  6. Review your business financial procedures and put in place an authorisation process for payments and transfers.

If you suspect you have been victim of whaling you can contact your bank immediately to try and stop the transfer. You can also contact Action Fraud or call 0300 123 2040.

SortmyPC can provide SME’s with advice on IT security –  www.sortmypc.co.uk. enquiries@sortmypc.co.uk. 0131 477 2644.

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Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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