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New report: Phishing cases increased by 400 percent during the pandemic

- The fraudsters are playing on our human weaknesses, says the expert.

Cecile Johnsen / November 23, 2021

In 2020 TietoEVRY registered a 400 percent increase in number of phishing cases. Even though the attacks on both private and public sector has been skyrocketing, very few are aware of the risks, says the Norwegian centre for information security.

- The fraudsters are manipulative, sophisticated and play on people's emotions and trust. Social manipulation is the key to almost all forms of online crime. The criminals use our vulnerabilities. new technological development, application of strong customer authentication, high profitability and ever more professional fraudsters are drivers in the criminal development, says Cecilie Johnsen, Head of Investigation at TietoEVRY Financial Crime Preventions’s Defence Centre.

TietoEVRY's report on phishing

 

Between January and September 2021, TietoEVRY Financial Crime Prevention stopped over 5500 phishing attempts. Over EUR 4 million was stopped from reaching the hands of organized criminal networks.

Last year’s increase is a trend that NorSIS has noticed: They previous have seen a change of pace in the increase of fraud and ID-theft. According to numbers from the Norwegian Centre for Information Security (NorSIS), almost half the adult population has received phishing attempts by e-mail or text the last year.

The criminals are running massive campaigns and are becoming increasingly better at avoiding the technology set up to stop them. As more of us are using two-factor authentication the criminals shift focus towards making us give up the information necessary to bypass the security measures, says Lars-Henrik Gundersen at NorSIS.

High season for fraud

Black Friday and Christmas shopping is the high season for digital purchases and postal deliveries. Both Gundersen and Johnsen ask people to be extra careful when they communicate with third parties.

We see an increase in phishing masked as logistics providers like The Postal Service, where the victims receive a text or e-mail with an encouragement to download a "tracking app" via a link or to pay a delivery fee to get their packages. During the holidays many people are waiting for packages, which lends credibility to the phishing attempts, says Johnsen.

It is as simple as clicking a fake payment link which will lead you to a fake banking portal, where the victims are tricked into giving away their banking information. This gives the fraudsters access to all the victims' accounts and allows them to empty the accounts.

Our most important assets have become digital

Gundersen in NorSIS says that even though people are generally more aware of IT security, there are many of us that do not take proper care of our personal information. It is important to establish a strong safety culture, both at home and at work:

Security mechanisms that are too complicated work against their purpose and make a lot of people choose shortcuts. Digital information needs to be treated like what it really is - assets. This is how passwords and personal information should be treated as well.

TietoEVRY's tips for a good safety culture

1. Change passwords regularly

2. Use healthy scepticism

3. Never give away personal information (No matter who asks)

4. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is

5. Go to the application's site directly, rather than using shared links

6. Use two-factor authentication the other way around: Ergo make counterparties verify their identity

 

Cecile Johnsen
Head of Investigation, TietoEVRY Financial Crime Prevention

Cecilie is leading the investigation section at TietoEVRY Financial Crime Prevention's Defence Centre. Her team of professionals stay ahead of market development and turn financial crime information into preventive action. Cecilie has extensive experience within organized- and financial crime intelligence, and started her position as Head of Investigation in 2021.

Author

Cecile Johnsen

Head of Investigation, TietoEVRY Financial Crime Prevention

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