As an Oxford IT company, we have seen a vast increase in the number of reports of email fraud in the news, and we are aware that cybercriminals are finding more and more creative ways to hack and exploit email accounts. Our work in IT Support Oxford has also brought to our attention that small businesses are now more likely to be targeted as many don’t have the security measures that much larger firms do.


Most cybercriminals work by hacking into web-based email accounts and then identify conversations about financial transactions. They then use stolen details to impersonate the person whose email account they have hacked and can persuade the person at the other end of the transaction to place the funds into a different bank account – one that they have control of. This means that the contractor or supplier who is trying to pay you, may actually end up facilitating your loss without them being any the wiser, and in some cases, this can cause damage to your business relationships as well.

Another technique cybercriminals use is to set up a fake email domain that is very similar to a legitimate domain, and then use this to converse with people who have no idea that it is not legitimate. This is seen quite a lot in “phishing” scams where people believe they are passing information securely to their bank when in fact they are playing right into the hands of the cybercriminals.  Having received such emails, ourselves, we know that the cybercriminals work hard to ensure their emails look genuine so that they pass under your radar. This is why it is so important for everyone to remain vigilant and so you must train everyone within your business to recognise signs of a threat, however, small they are.

The basic steps that all businesses can take to ensure they are protected are as follows:

  • Always confirm bank details by phone or in person before transferring any funds.
  • Only use unique and highly encrypted passwords
  • Do not share your passwords with anyone, and definitely, don’t use them on more than one device
  • Try and steer clear of free web-based email accounts that are more likely to be hacked. Instead, go for specific business accounts such as Microsoft Office.
  • When reading emails, be aware of any emails that sound in a different tone to the way the sender normally writes
  • Be suspicious of any email that tries to pressure you into responding or making payment quickly
  • Look out for differences in email domains, and check who has been CC’d into the conversation and whether you are familiar with them or not
  • Never open unknown or suspicious attachments. If you are not sure what to do with an attachment, you can always check with your IT Services
  • Select an email provider that includes virus and malware protection and spam filtering as standard
  • Ensure that up to date antivirus software is installed on every device in your business.

For more information about out Oxford IT services and how we can help your business more secure, please call us on 01865 524524 or email us at