Australia officially launched their National Anti-Scam Centre this week. With more than AUD $3.1 billion lost each year, Australians need support.
With representatives from the banks, telecommunications industries and digital platforms, the intent of the center is to identify methods to disrupt all kinds of scams and reduce scam losses.
While I completely support this initiative, it would be remiss of me not to highlight that the prevention of scams is perhaps as important as the cure.
If more than AUD $3.1 billion is being lost each year to scams (and that does not include the losses from scams that are not reported), maybe educating the people about the scams, what to look for, how to spot the red flags, how to report a scam, etc., is a really good idea. This is akin to increasing the number of speed cameras on the road instead of educating drivers about the speed limits and reinforcing these speed limits on the roads with repercussions if you are caught speeding.
There are several things that individuals can do to increase their basic cyber hygiene and avoid the relentless onslaught of scams. These include:
- For all incoming unsolicited communications (calls, SMS, and emails) accept the fact that there is an extremely high chance that they are scams
- If these communications are related to your personal information, financial information, threats of fines or arrest or perhaps an offer that seems too good to be true, take a breath and reconsider engaging with that communication
- Avoid clicking on links in SMS or emails – just do not do it
- Talk to your workplace and request ongoing, relevant and engaging education on security best practices that allow employees to test their knowledge with simulated social engineering activities, e.g., simulated phishing programs
You can read the media release for this new center here National Anti-Scam Centre's first fusion cell to disrupt investment scams.
New-school security awareness training is a key component of prevention. Regular training with repeated simulated phishing tests keeps employees on their toes in the short term and helps inoculate the entire organization with a resilient security culture in the long term.