SecurityBrief Australia - Technology news for CISOs & cybersecurity decision-makers
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Australians lose $3.1bn in 2022 to rising online scams
Wed, 31st Jan 2024

Scams on popular booking platforms such as Airbnb and are causing increasing concern in Australia, with consumers losing out on thousands of dollars. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has reported record losses due to scams, with Australians parting with approximately $3.1 billion in 2022.

A recent trend identified by cloud security company Akamai highlights in particular the prevalence of scams specifically targeting hotels, booking sites, travel agents, and travellers. The scam operates with the scam artist pretending to be a hotel representative, who then contacts the customer via the booking site, insisting they "re-confirm their credit card" - this tactic allows the scammer to steal the customer’s information. This fraudulent activity typically follows a chain of three steps: initiating the fraudulent act, making contact with the victim, and then duping the victim.

Akamai has provided several warning signs for potential travellers to watch out for, including the usage of urgent language and suspicious URLs. Phishing messages often manufacture a false sense of urgency, warning that reservations may be cancelled if swift action isn't taken. The graphical user interface (URL) provided isn't the legitimate domain, making it identifiable as a suspicious link.

To combat this growing scam epidemic, Akamai advises consumers to use the following verification methods: To start, never click on unsolicited links no matter how authentic they may seem. Instead, contact the company directly using an official channel beyond the messaging platform such as an email or phone number provided by the original site, hotel, or travel agency. In line with this, consumers should always be wary of messages that use alarming or threatening language, and aim to pressure immediate action. In terms of URLs, always double-check to ensure they match the legitimate website.

Furthermore, Akamai counsels to protect personal devices with up-to-date antivirus software. It may be worth also considering high-quality cloud security services, which provide advanced threat intelligence. With these measures in place, consumers can better protect themselves from falling prey to these ever-evolving and increasingly clever scams.