Liverpool BID Company - cybersecurity and safety advice

Measures announced over recent weeks to deal with coronavirus (COVID-19) have seen our day-to-day life drastically changed – we are spending more time at home and online. Unfortunately, criminals will use every opportunity they can to scam innocent people and their businesses. They are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. They spend hours researching you for their scams, hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment.

Unfortunately, criminals will use every opportunity they can to scam innocent people and their businesses. They are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. They spend hours researching you for their scams, hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment.

They can contact you by phone, email, text, on social media, or in person. They will try to trick you into parting with your money, personal information, or buying goods or services that don’t exist.

Law enforcement, government and industry are working together to help protect you and your businesses from these criminals, by identifying fraudulent websites, preventing phishing emails, blocking phone numbers and ultimately bringing those responsible to justice.

We have listed simple steps and prevention tips below.

General crime prevention tips

Below are some general crime prevention tips that may assist your organisations in this time. The impact on stores will vary and will naturally be defined by its location, size, criminality, customers, produce and its security.

→ If your staff fall victim to an assault or witness violence in your premises 

  • Try to remain calm and think of safety: yours, your customers and colleagues is paramount. If the perpetrator has left the premises, consider recording a description and reporting this to police as soon as possible.
  • Trust your instincts and maximise distance between yourself, customers, colleagues and any aggressive parties.
  • Ensure corporate conflict and exit contingency plans are adhered to. – Use hold up/ panic alarms if it is appropriate to do so. If there is a hold-up alarm installed use it, but only when safe to do so.
  • Consider the use of body worn video technology to capture evidence and positive impact the behaviour of those involved in violence on your premises.

→ Closed Premises/Venues that have been temporarily shut 

  • Test your alarm, ensure it is monitored and fully operational
  • Identify any vulnerable areas. Rectify these. Ensure security gates, bollards and fire exit doors have been secured prior to closure of the premises.
  • Ensure service doors are closed and locked when not in use.
  • Make sure you have list of key holders who can be contacted in times of emergency. Ensure your contact details for staff are up to date.
  • Consider moving high value items into secured stockrooms and out of view.
  • Ensure keys to the premises or other venues are not left inside and are instead with dedicated key holders.
  • Consider timer switches or ensure sufficient lighting is left on at the premises/surrounding area.
  • Ensure there are no combustible materials left in the proximity of the building such as packaging – consider the risk of arson.
  • Review your CCTV to confirm it is operational, provides good quality images and is positioned to cover as much of the store’s public and private areas. You may wish to consider a mobile phone app that allows connectivity and a vocal capacity to engage with any intruder.
  • Ensure that no cash is retained on the premises overnight (leave a note on the door stating that no cash or valuables are kept overnight) or store then in a security accredited safe bolted to the floor.

→ Physical Protective Measures 

  • Secure by Design products – use security rated products where possible (
  • External shutters are recommended but some buildings may be subject to planning approval before installation
  • Ensure all doors leading from public to staff arteries-loading areas etc are kept secure and monitored.
  • Laminated glass or security film that can be applied to existing glass to make it more resistant to a physical assault. Shutters and grilles (subject to planning regulations may also be a consideration)
  • An insurance rated safe should be bolted to the floor. Anti-tamper sensors can be fitted to set off an alarm if attacked.
  • Anti-ram security tested raider retractable bollards can be mounted externally to protect frontages but may require planning approval.
  • Consider use of anti-theft alarms on most desirable household items.
  • Fogging devices that activate as a result of an intruder activation may also be beneficial-you can’t steal what you can’t see

→ Large gatherings/Queuing

  • Premises should be adequately staffed with prominent management present who can make decisions or be identifiable to emergency services.
  • Consider an allocation system or queuing to provide items that are provided on a limited basis – or possible keeping these off-shop floor for collection.
  • Meet and Greets on main entrances to provide reassurance, customer care and a subliminal message to any prospective thieves.
  • Where possible SIA licensed security officers should have a visible presence on the premises in strategic areas.
  • All prominent household item areas should have a member of staff regulating them and depending on risk assessment consider deploying security into these areas.
  • Establish queueing contingency plans, including any car parking areas, and ensure there is commensurate security, and staff in this area and the main entrances. Reassurance to customers, some of whom may be anxious, is key to reduce anti-social behaviour.
  • Ensure that all staff are fully briefed each day, on emergency procedures and working practices.
  • All staff should remain vigilant and report any violence or suspicious activity to the police.
  • Consider minimising the number of entry points to your building in concert with fire egress.
  • Ensure building perimeters are clear of any debris, dustbins, ladders or loose tools and equipment that could assist entry.
  • Check that your emergency equipment/grab bags, first aid supplies and radio communication systems are operational.
  • Check and test your building security and emergency systems.


Fraud risks

Current COVID-19 Fraud Risks:

  • Mandate fraud
  • Courier fraud
  • Romance fraud
  • Online shopping fraud
  • Auction fraud
  • Insider fraud
  • Copycat fundraising pages (e.g. using images/content from successful campaigns)
  • Data breaches associated with home working practices/security
  • Phishing emails (18.5% of all emails to CoLP phishing inbox are COVID-related)
  • Counterfeit cheques and mule bank accounts
  • Unsecure video conferencing websites
  • Payment diversion
  • Identity fraud
  • Misinformation campaigns (esp. “cure”-related)
  • Investment fraud

Anticipated and/or Emerging Issues:

  • Spread of misinformation about coronavirus cures. For example in the Middle East, an email purporting that methanol is a cure instead led to at least 700 deaths.
  • Government support scheme frauds (including business interruption and the small business fund).
  • Serious Organised Crime groups using COVID-19 as a hook for future frauds.
  • Increases in pension and investment frauds linked to the economic recovery.
  • Phishing emails related to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
  • Bogus claims for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
  • An increase in app and game-based malware could result in data leakage, premium text and call fraud and a rise in direct debit disputes.
  • COVID-19 phishing emails and telephone calls masquerading as the UK government or trust entities such as WHO, Doctor’s Surgeries and local authorities.
  • There are concerns about devices that would not be permitted in the workplace being used by employees working from home.
  • With call centres moving to home working, there are concerns that organised crime groups could try to exploit this and apply for jobs in call centres to harvest data from the inside.
  • An increase in companies being established with COVID in their name might give rise to new fraud risks.

Some simple preventative tips:

Working from home securely

Criminals are continuing to use the COVID-19 pandemic to gain access to business computers, distribute malware and scam the public – don’t become a victim. The pandemic has required more people to work remotely home than ever before, and this has prompted businesses and individuals to embrace new technology and tools to access tools and resources, and to keep in touch with colleagues, students and families.

Remote Desktop Protocol:

There have recently been a a number of reports made where attackers have exploited insecure Remote Desktop Protocol ports and services to gain access to computers and networks.

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a powerful tool for allowing users to dial into and take control of other computers and servers remotely. Some of the many applications of RDP include administering networks, installing software and running complex scientific experiments on university supercomputers.

RDP also provides users the opportunity to access and utilise all the files and programmes available to them on their office computer, without needing to go to their places of work. Given the current COVID-19 outbreak, more and more businesses are using RDP to allow their employees to continue working from home.

However, if an attacker manages to successfully connect to a computer using RDP, they’d also have access to every programme and file available to a legitimate user. Attackers commonly use insecure RDP to install spyware, steal data and infect machines with ransomware with relative ease.

Thankfully there are several simple steps you can take to significantly improve the security of your RDP facilities and your network:

  1. Check your RDP ports and services. Most computers will need to have their RDP ports and services enabled in order to be controlled remotely. Despite this, many are unaware if their RDP ports and services are enabled or not, despite sometimes having no need for anyone access their network remotely.
  2. Configure your RDP to use strong passwords. This will quickly help to prevent RDP being used as an easy access route for attackers to get into your network. The overwhelming majority of attacks reported using RDP have been the result of weak passwords.
  3. Ensure logs are kept of RDP sessions and logon attempts. This will allow you to monitor if anyone is trying to break into your network, and more critically, allow you to identify anyone accessing it who shouldn’t!

Zoom Bombing:

Zoom Bombing is a worrying new trend whereby attackers join Zoom meetings uninvited and disrupt the session.

Reported instances of Zoom Bombing have involved attackers joining meetings and proceeding to shout racist comments, harass participants and in one case, attackers shared pornographic content during a lesson hosted by a primary school.

Attacks have been managing to ‘bomb’ Zoom meetings by exploiting how until recently, Zoom’s security features were not enabled by default. This meant that anyone with a link to a meeting could join it.

The latest versions of Zoom now have the basic security features enabled by default, but users should check that the correct settings and options are used to ensure meetings are kept private and participants are managed.

For advice and guidance on how to do this, click here.

Cybersecurity advice

Criminals are using an increasing number of ways to target both businesses and individuals online and in person by taking advantage of the current Coronavirus situation. Whether it’s using the current pandemic as a “hook” online to lure people into phishing emails and fake websites or are targeting stores which are closed, we have listed a number of general crime prevention tips that may assist the general public and organisations at this time.

Online advice:

Online criminals are using the pandemic as a way of getting malware and viruses onto devices to steal credentials, access webcams, commit fraud and hold us to ransom. North-West Regional Organised Crime Unit have provided advice for you to use during this time:

  • Go to the organisations’ genuine website
  • Check the detail of the URL or website address
  • Avoid clicking on links on emails and text messages
  • Think before you click
  • Don’t rush to give away personal details
  • Don’t assume everything you receive is genuine
  • Train your staff while working at home – Use the free ACT Awareness e-Learning package

Any online crimes and frauds need to be reported to Action Fraud. Get in touch on 0330 123 2040 if you have been a victim, especially for Ransomware and Denial of Service attacks which are classed as live cyber-crimes.

National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) have put together a range of important resources including guidance on working from home and more – Access these documents here and in the links below.

Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) have produced practical guidance for personnel on mitigating these risks, intended to inform employers about the personnel security vulnerabilities during such periods.

Criminals Exploit Coronavirus Advice
Home Working Increases in Response to COVID-19 Advice
Ransomware Advice

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