Fraud: The New Epidemic Sweeping the Nation

EM360 TECH

Published on
01/08/2022 09:32 AM

Article contributed by Steve Bradford, Senior Vice President EMEA at SailPoint

More than two years have passed since the beginning of the pandemic and courageously, us sofa warriors have battled our way through not only COVID but what seems to be the majority of Netflix. However, as we head back into an ‘almost’ normal world, we’re being met with what has become an ‘almost’ normal topic – fraud.  

Behind TV screens we’ve watched The Tinder Swindler con potential love interests into funding his lavish lifestyle, and Anna Delvey fooling New York’s high society into believing she was a German heiress with a substantial fortune in ‘Inventing Anna’. But what happens when a real-life fraudster isn’t someone we simply watch behind screens? How do we know that we’re not the next victim for a number one trending documentary on scams? 

Entering the mainstream 

The public hasn’t just found a new thirst for fraud out of nowhere. It’s becoming more prolific in our day to day lives, undoubtedly accelerated by the digital age. Cyber criminals are lurking behind every login, and with people growing reliant on the internet for shopping and staying connected during the pandemic, scams have skyrocketed - according to the National Cyber Security Centre, during the pandemic cyber scams rose 15-fold compared with 2019. 

 

In this age of intense sharing across websites and social media, we are almost desensitised to the dangers of posting our personal information online. Whether that be our latest selfie or our birthday celebrations, maybe even a picture of our new home, we risk carving the way for identity theft if we’re not putting the right protective measures in place.

In today’s digital age, identity is the make or break factor for a scam, and the foundational layer that allows a cyber criminal to impersonate someone. All it takes is the click of a link in a phishing email, the oversharing of one critical piece of information or the leak of one reused password that allows a scammer to slip through the cracks, and take on someone else’s persona. 

Identity is what binds us to the people around us, keeping us connected and in tune with the people in both our professional and personal lives. So, how do we both embrace our digital identities and protect them?

Don’t let data slip into the wrong hands

Zero-trust is a concept that should be a given in the business world. But it’s time we all started adopting this in our personal lives too. 

Data should be viewed in the same way as money - in the wrong hands, this could cost you a lot. Do your due diligence and confirm that the person is who they claim to be before granting anyone access to your information. Investigate their website, read any customer reviews, and evaluate any terms and conditions to make sure they are reliable and authentic. Make sure that your information won’t be shared with people you didn’t intend to share it with. 

Proceed with caution

Over $12 billion is lost to email scams each year globally - evidence of the tidal wave effect a straightforward click on a link may have. The best course of action is to scrutinise every email that comes in. There are simple steps that can be taken: hover over links before clicking, and avoid filling out forms unless you are absolutely certain that you are not giving away control of your digital identity.

Prepare your protective armour 

We’re always looking for ways to feel prepared and protected – whether it’s wearing woolly layers in the midst of winter or locking up our homes before heading out. Why wouldn’t we take the same approach when it comes to our vital information? 

Making things harder for fraudsters means you are less likely to feel the shockwave of consequences if you do fall victim to a scam. Those layers include things like keeping your software up to date, using two-factor authentication, and simply slowing down and thinking before you act.

It is more crucial than ever to view identity as the agent of our futures and of our businesses. Without the right security measures in place, cyber criminals could all too easily shapeshift into another person and get their hands on sensitive information. Identity is the gatekeeper and must be protected at all costs.