Who is most likely to lose money to tech scams in your business?

6th November 2018

Young or old? Men or Women? If you’re wondering which staff member is most likely to fall for scams, it’s not Angela in finance who is about to retire next year that’s your likely culprit.  Apparently, it’s young people and males that lose money in tech related scams according to the latest Microsoft ‘Tech Support Scam Research 2018’.

The report, which was produced after 16,048 adult internet users in 16 countries worldwide (1,000 per country) were interviewed, found that Millennials and Gen Z, in particular, are vulnerable to tech support scams because they typically engage in more risky online activities than older generations such as exchanging email for internet access to content, downloading movies, music, videos or using torrent sites. The report added that their overconfidence (in devices and their own web expertise) was their downfall.

This group were also more tolerant and trusting of ‘reputable companies’ that made ‘unsolicited contact’ than older generations. While confidence and being an early adopter can be a good thing, it does leave them more vulnerable to cyber criminals.

Microsoft’s research also provided a snapshot of various countries (12 in total) featured in the report, including the UK, USA, Switzerland, South Africa, Singapore, New Zealand, Mexico and Japan to name but a few.

These were the types of scams that were investigated:

  1. Email: This is where unsolicited emails appear from a ‘reputable company’, which claims that computers are infected with a virus. They then claim that they can help resolve the issue, often for a fee. Reports in the media show that most recently scammers in the UK are claiming to call from BT (British Telecom) and have even cloned the telecommunications provider’s number.
  2. Pop-ups: These refer to pop-up windows (often displaying adverts) from ‘reputable companies. Again, the common tactic is to claim that computers have been infected with viruses.
  3. Phone calls: People are often targeted randomly often by someone claiming to be from a reputable company or organization. In the UK, some are even purporting to be from the HMRC and have built sophisticated websites to mirror the revenue service’s own website.
  4. Redirect: This is where a person is redirected to a website that claims to represent a ‘reputable company’. It also usually says that your computer is infected with a virus when it isn’t.

Worryingly, stats for the UK showed that more (6%) have lost money in 2018 than in 2016, where only 2% lost money. Fewer people (46%) ignored scam calls in 2018 than in 2016, where 59% of people ignored the call. But more people (38%) had no interaction with scamsters where only 31% of people avoided scams completely in 2016.

What this research shows, says Microsoft, is that both education and technology can play a role in reducing people’s vulnerability to tech support scams. They highlighted that a 12-point drop in scammers asking for social security numbers (or their international equivalents) reflects the power of awareness building and education, while increased adoption of ad-blocking technology in recent years potentially contributed to the significant decline in pop-up ads/window scams.

If you’re uncertain about whether you have the correct security in place or the expertise to ensure that it’s in place, why not give us a call today or fill out our online form to talk about your security issues.

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