Businesses bombarded by cyber-attacks as they seek support for COVID-19

A range of organisations, including the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), have released fresh warnings about the risk of cyber-attacks during this already challenging period.

Reports are being released that suggest that cybercriminals are targeting businesses via the use of phishing emails that seem to be from HMRevenue &Customs (HMRC) offering support to businesses.

According to the ICAEW, one such email, proclaiming to be from HMRC chief executive, Jim Harra read: “Dear customer, we wrote to you last week to help you prepare to make a claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. We are now writing to tell you how to access the COVID-19 relief.

“You will need to tell us which UK bank account you want the grant to be paid into, in order to ensure funds are paid as quickly as possible to you.”

The rise in fraud and scams as a result of COVID-19 has been dramatic. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is understood to have already removed more than 2,000 online coronavirus scams over the last month, including 471 fake online shops selling fraudulent coronavirus-related items, 555 malware distribution sites set up to inflict significant damage to visitors and 832 advance-fee frauds.

Fraud is of considerable concern to HMRC and it has asked that people forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.go.uk or by texting 60599.

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