CyberWhite, a North East-based cyber security specialist, is warning home workers to be more vigilant as cyber crime increases due to the coronavirus crisis.

The firm has been contacted by several firms who have seen increased suspicious activity, mostly in the form of ‘phishing’ emails, which request users to enter personal information, such as bank details or passwords.

Recent statistics from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport found that cyber attacks have evolved and become more frequent, with 46 percent of businesses reporting having a cyber security breach or threat in the last 12 months. In medium sized businesses, this figure increased to 68 percent and with large businesses increased to 75 percent.

It is expected that cyber criminals will continue to try and deceive businesses, preying on the fact that people will be unused to working from home, so may be busier than usual, or that they may be focused on the current crisis, causing them to make errors of judgement.

Matt Hewison, chief operating officer of CyberWhite, said: “There has certainly been an increase in phishing scams over the course of this pandemic. It’s an extension of something that’s been happening for a long time, and the landscape’s changing all the time.

“I think it’s easy to forget that these criminals are people at the end of machines. They’re tuned in to what’s going on in the world and they’re using COVID 19 to their advantage. They’re aware of what loans and grants people may have applied for or concerns they might have and are manipulating people with this knowledge.

“They’re preying on both people who are busier due to working from home or the people who might be bored and stuck for things to do. The criminal hopes that, instead of being cautious, people will just give away their information without a thought.

“I would urge anyone, if they receive correspondence that appears to be suspicious, to double check by using official contact details not details provided in the original correspondence. These scams are becoming more sophisticated and difficult to spot. Remember you should never give out your personal information without being confident you know where it’s going.”