Scammers’ Australian windfall bodes poorly for cybersecurity’s human defences

Company culture is the soft underbelly that scammers can exploit, using the same techniques to access corporate data which fool employees in their personal lives.

An unknown number calls a mobile phone amid pixelated data.
Tero Vesalainen / WhataWin / Getty Images

Surging losses to online scammers are posing new dangers for Australian CISOs working to build effective security cultures, with scammers taking $851 million from Australians in 2020 and with several successful scams posing particular risks to corporate security.

The cybercrime that is so effective in people’s personal lives are also effective in breaching corporate security. The human factor and the company culture around it is perhaps the weakest defence at most organisations.

The costs of scams only keep increasing

Scammers extracted $7.2 million in computer takeover scams during the first half of 2021 alone, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) ScamWatch service warned as it reported half-year figures showing Australians were continuing to be fleeced by a range of campaigns.

For example, the ACCC received almost 6,500 reports from Australians who had been called by scammers trying to convince them to download remote-access software—usually under the guise of fixing purported problems with the internet, NBN broadband, or banking services.

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