While thousands of people are looking forward to the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 in Liverpool in May, the North West Cyber Resilience Centre (NWCRC) is warning businesses to be on high alert for an increased amount of cybercrime.
Businesses involved in the supply chain around hosting the popular song contest will be dealing with numerous new suppliers, customers and other businesses, making it harder for them to spot potential fraudsters and signs of cybercrime.
The Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022 found that in the North West, 44% of small businesses had a cyber breach or attack in the previous 12 months, and only 28% had done a risk assessment of cyber security risks.
Head of Cyber and Innovation at the NWCRC DI Dan Giannasi said: “We are asking all businesses across the North West, but particularly Merseyside, to be vigilant against potential cyber crime in the run up to the Eurovision Song Contest in May.
“Protecting your organisation is critical for businesses involved in the event but also the wider business community across the region. Currently we are hearing about an increased number of phishing scams, where fraudsters are trying to get personal information and take payment while impersonating businesses.
“Small businesses in particular can be vulnerable as they often lack the in-house skills and knowledge to protect themselves effectively.”
Katie Gallagher, founder of the NWCRC and MD of Manchester Digital, said: “Cybercrime is increasingly more sophisticated so it can be really hard to spot phishing or hacking attempts.
“Fraudsters will be relying on businesses dealing with unfamiliar suppliers and customers and looking for any opportunity to take advantage of a situation.”
The NWCRC has outlined a number of ways that cyber-criminals could attempt to defraud a business.
1. Phishing attacks via email, SMS or WhatsApp are the main threat to be wary of, especially as this is a gateway to other further attempts of cybercrime. In 2022, the Cyber Security Breaches Survey found that 83% of UK businesses had suffered phishing attacks.
If you receive emails, text messages or Whatsapp messages, confirm that they are from the business that they claim to be before you share any information or payments. Look out for unusual email addresses, bad spelling and anything else that looks suspicious.
2. Malware is when cybercriminals try to trick you into downloading software onto your computer, usually through a phishing email. Ransomware is a type of malware which means all of your information is encrypted or deleted and you cannot access it. Cyber criminals would ask for a payment, or a ransom, to hand it back over.
3. Fake invoices are one of the most likely cybercrimes that businesses could see around a huge event like Eurovision, either purporting to be from a real business, or simply an opportunist fake invoice, in the hope that it won’t be checked out and paid.
DI Dan Giannasi concludes by saying, “We strongly advise businesses in the North West, and in particular businesses in the supply chain for the Eurovision Song Contest such as hotels, transport providers and any other suppliers, to update all of their software, ensure their firewalls and virus protection is up-to-date and switch on two-factor authentication wherever possible.”
The NWCRC is a police-led collaboration providing advice and education; workshops and training and events for businesses across the North West to help them protect against the spiralling threat of cybercrime.
The NWCRC was established in 2019 as the first centre in the UK, and is now part of a network of regional Cyber Resilience Centres featured in the HM Government National Cyber Strategy 2022. The organisation is a not-for-profit venture between North West Police Forces and Manchester Digital.
For more information about training and support around cybercrime, visit https://www.nwcrc.co.uk/