Cost of cybercrime hits a new high according to the ACCC’s Scamwatch Report

By Cameron Abbott and Giles Whittaker

Australians are suffering more than ever to various cyber scams, with the ACCC’s ninth annual Targeting Scams Report confirming the ACCC received more than 200,000 scam reports costing a total of roughly $340 million during 2017, a $40 million increase from 2016. Whilst this increase is attributed to a variety of different cyber scams, including investment scams which totalled $64 million, an increase of more than 8%, the second largest contributor to the $340 million total losses was from dating and romance scams which amounted to $42 million. The search for love clearly has its costs. With the average loss suffered per victim totalling $6500, these losses are not inconsequential and continue to push cybersecurity into the forefront of both individuals and businesses daily activities.

According to the report and reiterated by ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard, some of the larger amounts lost in a single scam total more than $1 million. Often larger amounts such as these are losses through business email compromise (BEC) scams. BEC scams involve impersonating individuals by utilising credentials obtained via phishing attacks to then issue false invoices or convince the individual to hand over banking details. The costs of the BEC scams in 2017 according to the ACCC’s report totalled $21.1 million. Attacks like BEC are heavily reliant on the scammers being able to impersonate individuals via the use of credentials gained via other attacks. Consequently, and keeping in mind this week is Scams Awareness Week, organisations need to ensure they are not contributing to the increased cybercrime activity by implementing and maintaining strong cybersecurity protections and training.

A sobering perspective is that as much of these scams are never made public due to the personal or professional embarrassment, it’s quite likely that we are underestimating their prevalence.

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