Whilst neither Fraud or Cybercrime are something any of us want to be involved in or fall victim to, understanding the difference between fraud and cybercrime is key to helping you understand how to minimise risks and how to identify threats targeting your business.
In this blog, we’re going to take a look at the differences between these two major crime types, key signs to be aware of to prevent becoming a victim, steps to take should you fall victim and how the free support available at The South East Cyber Resilience Centre can help you to tighten up your cyber defences against both Fraud and other cybercrime methods.
So, let’s get started! What are the differences between fraud and cybercrime?
Fraud, in its essence, refers to any deceptive or dishonest act carried out by individuals or organisations for personal gain, often resulting in financial loss for the victim. It encompasses a wide range of activities, including but not limited to identity theft, investment scams, insurance fraud, and credit card fraud. Fraudulent acts typically occur through various means, such as phone calls, email phishing attempts, or face-to-face interactions, and can target individuals, businesses, or even governments.
Cybercrime encompasses criminal activities that are conducted through the use of digital technologies or the internet. All types of cybercrime involve the unauthorised access, manipulation, or destruction of computer systems, networks, or personal devices. Criminals operate with the intention of causing harm, whether it is financial, reputational, or even political. Examples of cybercrime include hacking, phishing, malware attacks, and online scams.
Do they ever interlink?
While fraud and cybercrime are distinct in their definitions, it is important to note that they often intersect. Although not all fraud is committed online, and not all cybercrimes are fraud, there is a significant crossover.
The City of London Police revealed that as of December 2023, fraud accounts for over 40% of all crime in England and Wales and some 80% is enabled by online platforms.
Criminals often utilise fraudulent tactics to deceive individuals and gain unauthorised access to their personal information or financial assets. For instance, phishing scams, where individuals are tricked into revealing sensitive information through seemingly legitimate emails or websites, are a prime example of this convergence.
So, how can I reduce my businesses risk?
To protect our businesses from these malicious activities, it is vital that we remain vigilant and adopt preventive measures.
The Metropolitan Police have produced ten golden rules to help you prevent fraud and beat the scammers. These are:
Be suspicious of all ‘too good to be true’ offers and deals. There are no guaranteed get-rich-quick schemes.
Don’t agree to offers or deals immediately. Insist on time to get independent or legal advice before making a decision.
Don’t hand over money or sign anything until you’ve checked someone’s credentials and their company’s.
Never send money to anyone you don’t know or trust, whether in the UK or abroad, or use methods of payment you’re not comfortable with.
Never give banking or personal details to anyone you don’t know or trust. This information is valuable so make sure you protect it.
Always log on to a website directly rather than clicking on links in an email.
Don’t just rely on glowing testimonials. Find solid, independent evidence of a company’s success.
Always get independent or legal advice if an offer involves money, time or commitment.
If you spot a scam or have been scammed, report it and get help.
Don’t be embarrassed about reporting a scam. Because the scammers are cunning and clever there’s no shame in being deceived. By reporting it, you'll make it more difficult for them to deceive others.
We have also compiled ten steps to take to prevent other cybercrime methods and attacks:
Use a Password Manager to keep track of your passwords - don't write them down on post-it notes!
If you receive a scam email or text message, don't click any links or attachments if you’re unsure that it is genuine. Clicking a link in a phishing email could download viruses onto your computer, or steal personal information. Send them to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service: firstname.lastname@example.org and forward any suspicious text messages to 7726.
If you purchase any new devices this month, don't forget to install the latest updates and patches. Installing the latest updates can stop criminals from exploiting faults in old systems or software.
When you use different passwords for your important accounts, it can be hard to remember them all. A good way to create strong, memorable passwords is by using 3 random words. (For example; purplehollypudding71!).
Avoid giving hackers the toolkit to attack your website, make sure you have a website firewall installed, update your CMS and control access management.
When creating backups, keep them separate, in a different location from your network and systems, or in the cloud.
When you're out shopping use mobile data or hotspot devices instead of public Wi-Fi where possible.
Keep your social media accounts secure by making sure you know which staff members have access and which devices are signed into each account.
Two-step verification (2SV) ensures that any new device trying to log in or make account changes needs a second layer of security before access is given. 2FA includes single-use codes being sent via SMS, email, phone, or smartphone application.
Download the NCSC's Cyber Security Guide for Small Businesses for an overview of the basics.
Need further support? The South East Cyber Resilience Centre can assist you with additional options:
The South East Cyber Resilience Centre (SECRC) itself is a small business which has been set up as a police-private sector-academia partnership, with the simple aim of raising cyber resilience across the South East region. Whilst cyber security can be complex and costly, the SECRC offers a free membership option which helps you understand some of the risks from cybercrime, but also offering support and guidance to businesses in the region.
Businesses in the South East can join us in the fight against cybercrime and receive a welcome pack full of practical resources and tools that will help you identify your risks and vulnerabilities and the steps you can take to increase your levels of protection. You’ll also get regular updates on new threats, designed to help you stay safer.