It seems that an increasing number of people are being targeted by WhatsApp scams. Many assume that popular apps of this kind are perfectly safe. Don’t be fooled! WhatsApp is quickly becoming a fruitful hunting ground for cyber-criminals.
Whilst significant emphasis has been placed on awareness and training to identify threats via email, with over two billion users, WhatsApp is an attractive channel for cyber-criminals to pursue as users’ guards are more likely to be down.
In fact, we’ve experienced over 2000% more WhatsApp scams over the last 12 months than ever before, according to Lloyds Bank research, with the average victim losing around £1,950.
However, this personal and invasive method of cyber crime can be avoided. There are a few ways you can avoid becoming a victim of WhatsApp scams and we’re here to share them!
WhatsApp scams may feel more of a violation than email scams, as they’re targeting victims via a trusted platform used daily. But this gives us more of an opportunity to spot them!
In most instances the perpetrator will attempt one of the following:
Email phishing can be tricky to identify, as the cyber criminal poses as a corporation or unfamiliar person. Whereas on WhatsApp, they more commonly pose as someone the victim knows well enough to exchange regular messages with, like a friend, family member, colleague or trusted business.
One of the most common scenarios we see is the urgent favour.
This can start with a message from an unknown number, seeming to be someone you know, who claims they have just lost their phone and got a replacement. Or, in more sophisticated attempts, the criminal will have researched and impersonated the name of the person they claim to be.
In some instances, generic terms like ‘Mum’, ‘Dad’, ‘Sis’ or ‘Bro’ will be used. However, in targeted attempts, actual names and roles will be used so the scam can appear very convincing.
The story they tell varies but claims often include the inability to access internet banking (due to a new phone) or the inability to visit a store that sells gift cards – thus justifying the need for urgent help.
Victims are then convinced to carry out the required task (transfer cash or purchase gift cards, often sending pictures of the activation codes). The request usually invokes some sort of time pressure, which can further impact victims’ ability to step back and use better judgement.
Other common WhatsApp scams include:
All these scams have the same end goal in mind! Either to directly solicit funds from you or to gain access to your device or credentials to allow further malicious activity to take place.
There are a few ways you can avoid falling victim to WhatsApp scams:
Application cyber crime is something many are blissfully unaware of, so it’s no surprise if the emergence of these hacking trends makes you feel unsettled.
With over five million businesses using WhatsApp, these scams are not always personal. They can lead to huge losses if targeted at a corporation.
If your business uses WhatsApp, you must take security seriously.
There’s no reason you shouldn’t benefit from an app that hosts over 2 billion users every month! You just need to put the right measures in place.
Whilst business messaging itself is secure through end-to-end encryption, it doesn’t mean you can’t be fooled by impersonators.
If you’re using WhatsApp for business:
If you’re having doubts about WhatsApp, or any other application, as a secure communication method for your business – we can help.
With a whole team of cyber security experts, we have a breadth of knowledge on how you can manage your business devices and communicate internally and externally, with minimal exposure to cyber crime.
Our team can help you incorporate secure and reliable tools that will enable your business to operate efficiently and uninterrupted by hackers.
Why not give us a call to find out more? We’d be happy to discuss your needs and provide some recommendations.