May 26, 2024

Warning on festive phishing trends as business poll shows two thirds believe malicious emails are on the rise

Research conducted by NFU Mutual, a significant commercial insurer, has revealed that nearly two thirds of respondents (62%) believe the number of phishing emails they receive has increased in the last year. Twenty percent thought they had received around the same number, and just 18% believe the number has decreased.

Only 21% of respondents were completely confident they could identify a phishing email, while 79% had uncertainties.

NFU Mutual introduced a free three-month cyber helpline in June of this year to provide additional support for its small business and small farm customers.* The service has now been extended to the end of the year, supporting businesses as the growing number of phishing emails leaves them feeling more vulnerable to cyber-attack. The helpline offers eligible customers free access to 24/7 coaching, which covers ‘up to the minute’ methods of cyber-protection and offers support in the event of an attack.

Zoe Knight, Commercial Propositions Manager at NFU Mutual, said: “It only takes one small error to make a business very vulnerable. The vast proportion of cyber-incidents are the result of human error. The best way to combat that is to educate employees on cyber security and to keep refreshing that knowledge with regular training. Cyber-crime develops quickly, so an employee’s understanding of the threats facing the business must develop quickly too.

“Phishing emails sent around Christmas time are a prime example of this continually evolving threat. Cyber-criminals capitalise on increased levels of online shopping, leveraging themes like failed payments, incomplete orders and missed parcels to lure people into clicking links, opening attachments or sharing personal details.

“We have extended our free helpline service in direct response to the increased exposure our commercial customers are facing. With phishing emails growing in both sophistication and frequency, we want to help businesses understand the dangers, and support them to react quickly in the event of a cyber incident.”

The helpline is delivered by Cyberscout, a global industry leader in cyber-security and identity theft resolution services.

Offering further insight into phishing email trends over the festive period, Tom Spier, Commercial Director of Global Markets at Cyberscout, said: “With this year expected to break records for online shopping, individuals and businesses alike need to tread carefully. A personal device that has been compromised by a careless click on a phishing email or a download from a phony e-commerce site is capable of spreading ransomware across a business’s network, sometimes within seconds.”

Top tips for identifying a phishing email

  • Pay attention to expressions of urgency or immediate requests for action
  • Be aware of requests for sensitive personal information
  • Check for spelling or grammatical errors
  • Watch out for communications from unknown or untrusted senders
  • If you know/trust the sender, does the email address used match the contact you have on record?
  • Has the email come through at an odd time? Be wary of messages received out of office hours