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2021 Scams and Cybersecurity Threats: A Summary

The confidence trickster has been around since humans first started walking the planet, it’s nothing new. An act of deception designed to trick people into doing something they might not normally do or say. People lose money, do things they wouldn’t normally do and in extreme cases people have their identities stolen. Modern day hoaxes and scams can start in the form of email, free product giveaways, commercials and adverts embedded in websites, fake websites and personal information requests.

If the year 2020 hadn’t already been eventful enough, there’s more to come during the 2021 as the COVID pandemic continues, stricter lockdowns, vaccine rollouts, political turmoil and the increasing reliance on technology – all makes for the perfect storm. Here’s just a handful of things to be aware of…

COVID-19

There have been many scams related to COVID-19 over the past year, where unscrupulous criminals use the fear and uncertainty of a pandemic to trick people. Last year fake ‘test and trace’ schemes, fake ‘government’ text messages, spoofed websites, fake requests for payments to access COVID-19 information and fake ‘HMRC’ tax refunds started doing the rounds – this is just the tip of the iceberg of the different types of scams out there.

Now, with the vaccine being distributed around the globe, the scammers are inevitably going to use this theme to entice unwitting victims to hand over their details.

While, all these COVID scams use different situations to trick people, the end goal is a common one – to defraud you of your personal data. Bank details, passwords or credit card numbers are all valuable information.

One of the worst things that’s been happening since the vaccines were developed is that hackers have been targeting the systems that keep certain vaccines super cold, those that require the temperature to be -70 degrees. This just goes to show the depths some people will go to.

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Working from Home

This is becoming an increasing area of concern, especially for the land based organisations and vendors that are part of the yacht supply chain. Employees are likely using their own devices on their own WIFI networks. Devices that aren’t patched, managed and secured by the IT department are a risk to corporate networks. 

This provides hackers rich pickings and makes it easier to make inroads into the corporate network, bypassing the traditional security measures and making a data breach even more likely, giving access to sensitive data about you and your yacht.

Investment Scams

These scams manifest themselves in different ways, for example, there are the debt collection ones, loan shark scams and, increasingly, the crypto currency scams, which are becoming more prevalent since the crypto boom of 2017 – there are now hundreds of new cryptocurrencies on the market

If you have cryptocurrency or digital assets of this kind, beware of fake websites and YouTube videos claiming to double your amount of Bitcoin – too good to be true? Definitely. If it feels like this, then trust your instinct and don’t succumb. You’ll be thankful in the end when you haven’t lost your savings.

Also beware of new cryptocurrencies hitting the market with no roadmap or projected plan for the future – they promise you their coin is the next big thing, supporting whatever cause, however the intentions here are to take your money and disappear.

If you’re not sure about cryptocurrencies then make sure you do your research first. Many people are still unfamiliar with blockchain technology and how to trade, and these are the people that are easy prey for scammers. 

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Internet of Things

Proliferating a yacht, home or person near you. Smartphones, wearable tech, lightbulbs, loudspeakers, printers, AV systems, televisions, coffee machines. That’s just for starters… Then you have the navigation systems collecting weather, wind and water data, monitoring systems on board for sensors, valves and tanks, air conditioning, stabilisers. The list goes on, but you get the idea.

Along with Machine Learning (AI) and Big Data, these devices become very smart and build up a detailed overview of the environment they are installed in or worn on. This makes life much easier for owners, guests and crew by removing the mundane tasks and allowing real-time tracking and monitoring of critical systems

There are, however, threats to security and privacy presented by IoT devices. As there is no standard for how these devices communicate and are updated, the risk is that they can be compromised due to lack of security controls, out of date software and connectivity to the Internet, which means many of these devices are inherently insecure.

Google Home, Alexa and smart TVs are just some of the devices that could be listening to your conversations. 

Overall Awareness

As the world becomes more complicated and more connected, the odd thing is that certain daily tasks become more convenient and, as a result, we become more complacent… human beings thrive on taking the path of least resistance to achieve a goal, it’s the way we are programmed as primeval beings and how we still operate today. This is where the confidence trickster, the scammer, has the advantage.

Knowing what signs to look out for to avoid being scammed is crucial. The same is so in the technological world. As things become more turbulent it’s good to discuss these things and keep on top of how things are developing – more than we could have imagined, so it seems, even just a year ago.

Being aware of what technology is capable of, how to identify those dodgy emails or fake websites and how much personal data we are willing to give away means we can make conscious decisions. If we are practicing good cyber hygiene in our personal lives then that translates into our work lives making the yacht environment safer and more secure from cyber-attack.

Don’t be the soft target.


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