Tax season is phishing season, and cybercriminals are preying on unsuspecting taxpayers through a range of sophisticated phishing techniques that could put their personal and financial information at risk.

This according to Brian Pinnock, cybersecurity expert at Mimecast, who says that 53% of South African respondents in its latest research saw an increase in phishing attacks using malicious links or attachments over the past year.

“Email remains a highly attractive method of attack for cybercriminals, especially during periods – such as our current tax season – where consumers are likely to send and receive sensitive personal and financial information via email,” says Pinnock. “What’s highly concerning is that 45% of South African respondents in our latest survey reported an increase in targeted spear-phishing attacks containing malicious links or attachments. Spear-phishing relies on social engineering, so it is well researched, highly targeted at the receiver and is difficult for an uneducated end user to spot. And it’s not only individual taxpayers that are at risk: organisations with insufficient security and a lack of end-user awareness are easy targets for sophisticated attacks that could put their systems – and their data – at risk.”