AFP saves mom and dad’s business from cybercriminals

by MMC
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Editor’s note: Audio captures, case studies and a series of educational videos on cybercrime are available through Hightail.

The AFP has returned $45 million to Australian businesses targeted by cybercriminals over the past three years.

As the AFP today challenges the mistaken belief that once a person loses their money to cybercriminals they will never get it back, new case studies will be revealed to show how investigators successfully stopped domestic and offshore cybercriminals from defrauding Australian businesses.

And with Cybersecurity Awareness Month approaching in October, AFP will today release 11 short videos explaining how to avoid falling victim to cybercrime – and what to do if it is targeted.

The videos, which are 90 seconds long, include advice and information on: compromising business emails; ransomware/extortion; remote access scams; malware; botnets; keyloggers; viruses and worms; online shopping scams; Remote access Trojans and money muling.

AFP cybercrime operations commander Chris Goldsmid said the common factor for successful and partial recovery of funds was for victims to contact ReportCyber ​​and their financial institutions as soon as they realized they had been victims of cybercriminals – usually within 24 hours.

Commander Goldsmid said self-reported losses from business email compromise scams increased to more than $98 million in 2021-22, with the average loss per successful compromise increasing to more than $64,000.

“Business, especially family businesses, is the engine room of Australia. Business owners work hard and the AFP works hard to protect them from cybercriminals looking for an easy payday,” Commander Goldsmid said.

Business email compromise is where cybercriminals use a fake email account that looks or sounds like a company’s real email address, or access and compromise a legitimate email account.

Cybercriminals then use these accounts to try to defraud people and businesses out of money or goods.

An example of this is invoice fraud, where cybercriminals hack into a supplier’s email account giving them access to real invoices whose banking and contact details they can change before sending them to customers.

There is also employee impersonation, in which cybercriminals use the compromised email account to initiate a fraudulent business transaction, redirect their individual salary payment, or trick employees into revealing sensitive business information.

Commander Goldsmid said a number of domestic criminals and crime groups, as well as those in Africa and Eastern Europe, were targeting businesses in Australia.

Commander Goldsmid said cybercriminals do not discriminate when it comes to victims.

“Whether your business is big or small, everyone is at risk. So it’s important to know what to do to protect your business from cybercriminals and stay safe online.

“If you have been the victim of a business email compromise or cybercrime, be sure to report it immediately to ReportCyber ​​at Cyber.gov.au/report and you should contact your financial institution if you suspect any activity unusual on your account.

“If you believe you have been targeted, secure compromised accounts and notify all affected third parties. Cybercriminals use these accounts to try to scam people and businesses out of money or goods.

“To protect your business and your accounts, don’t open links or attachments in suspicious emails or from people you don’t know and train your employees to recognize potential phishing emails.

“Also limit access levels within your organization to minimize risk and ensure access is revoked when employees change roles or leave the company.

“Contact the email provider or domain registrar if a cybercriminal is using an email service to impersonate you or your business.”

The AFP’s close relationships with law enforcement and foreign banks helped return money to customers, disrupting criminals who thought they had an easy paycheck.

Australia’s big four banks have seconded members to the AFP’s Joint Cybercrime Policing Center – the JPC3 – which uses the powers, investigative and intelligence capabilities of all Australian policing jurisdictions to Target high volume, high harm cybercrime affecting the Australian community.

“Having the banks work closely with the AFP has been invaluable. The four banks are part of Operation HELIX, an industry-led targeting project designed to identify and combat the greatest sources of harm in the financial sector through cyber fraud,” said Commander Goldsmid.

“Through this project, banks have identified the need to target remote access scams and help police respond to other investigations, such as Operation Dolos, which targets compromise scams professional email.”

Operation Dolos includes the AFP and all state and territory policing partners, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), the Australian Cyber ​​Security Center (ACSC), the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC), as well as representatives from the Australian and international financial sector. law enforcement

The Australian Cyber ​​Security Centre’s annual cyber threat report, from July 2021 to June 22, found it received more than 76,000 reports of cybercrime during that period, an increase of 13% from the previous year. Previous exercice.

“Cybercrime is the burglary of the 21st century,” said Commander Goldsmid.

“And for many in the community, it’s about reimagining what a crime scene looks like.”

“Every chance I get, I like to remind businesses and the public that they need to think about cybercrime like any other crime.

“Early engagement is essential so law enforcement can investigate while coordinating with those patching affected systems.

“For businesses, we need them to have the muscle memory to immediately call law enforcement to ensure we get the evidence we need to identify those responsible for the cyber attack, disrupt cyber actors threaten and protect their customers or those whose data is compromised.

“This will make it much easier as we work with financial institutions to make it more difficult for criminals to move money out of Australia where it has been obtained through cybercrime, including scams, ransomware and business email compromises.”

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