Cyber attacks - staying secure and dealing with unsolicited calls

You may have heard about the recent cyber attack on the NHS and other organisations. Various media outlets have reported that RansomWare attacked over 200,000 computers across over 70 countries. The attacks locked files on the computers and asked for a payment before users could access the files.

Should consumers worry about the cyber attacks?

RansomWare is not generally designed to harvest consumer details and indications are that no personal data was stolen. 

Notwithstanding the above, previous attacks have seen cyber criminals use programmes to gain consumer details. The criminals used the details to contact consumers – and during the conversations, they were able to set out facts they might not otherwise have known - such as the consumer’s date of birth and account number. This gave the consumers confidence that the caller was from a legitimate company. Subsequently, the fraudsters duped the consumers into providing bank details and many consumers lost money through this criminal act. 

How to protect yourself

Consumers should always be vigilant when dealing with unsolicited calls. The following tips should help.

  • Companies might make legitimate calls to their customers – for example to discuss accounts or new products. Companies will normally have a verification process in place to make sure they are speaking to the account holder; this might include asking the customer to verify some details.
  • A caller should not volunteer personal information. Sharing this information before knowing they are speaking to the account holder could be a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.
  • If an unsolicited caller has volunteered information, they might not be from a legitimate company and could be volunteering the information to win your trust.
  • If you are at all suspicious about the caller, you should hang up and call the company back on its advertised customer services number – you should be able to find this on the company website or on your bills.
  • You should not provide bank details or allow remote access to your computer when asked to do so by an unsolicited caller.
Published 23 May 2017