The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has now launched a new service for organisations and individuals to report on scam emails. This is an element of its larger campaign to help people safeguard themselves against cybercrime attacks during the coronavirus outbreak.
This latest NCSC campaign has been created with support and aid from the Home Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), along with the Cabinet Office.
Ciaran Martin, CEO for the NCSC, commented that while technology is helping us to cope with the present pandemic and will play a part in us getting through the crisis, the situation has made cybersecurity more crucial than ever. He stated:
“With greater use of technology, there are different ways attackers can harm all of us. But everyone can help to stop them by following the guidance campaign we have launched today. But even with the best security in place, some attacks will still get through. That’s why we have created a new national reporting service for suspicious emails.”
He added that people forwarding malicious messages to the NCSC would be defending the UK from cybercrime and that if any suspect emails were discovered to link to harmful content, they would be blocked, and the sites they lead to removed.
A reporting system for greater security
The campaign, dubbed “Cyber Aware”, will provide both guidance and actionable advice to assist individuals in protecting online accounts and stored passwords, as well as the devices they use. The Suspicious Email Reporting Service has been developed to facilitate the forwarding of potentially malicious emails, and while most of the messages at this time are likely to pertain to the coronavirus, people can send the NCSC any other suspect emails they encounter too.
The new service has been devised in conjunction with the City of London Police. The simple process means that when someone forwards a suspicious email to the NCSC (firstname.lastname@example.org),an automated program can then test its contents for validity. The NCSC and the authorities can then identify and remove phishing sites and scams more quickly. The reporting service will also aid law enforcement by supplying data for analysis, allowing them to discover new patterns in online crime.
An ideal climate for online fraud
City of London Police Commander Karen Baxter commented that with people staying indoors and online more, there were increasing opportunities for scammers. She added:
“Law enforcement are working closely with government to ensure the public, and businesses, are as well-equipped as possible to fight online harms. Officers have already executed a number of warrants across the country to target and disrupt criminals sending emails and texts designed to steal your money.”
To date, the NCSC has reported it has taken down 555 sites distributing malware, 472 bogus online shops offering fake COVID-19-related items, and 200 dedicated phishing sites attempting to harvest personal information.
Information released from Action Fraud indicates that over £2m has been lost due to fraud related to COVID-19, but the real figure is likely to be far higher as many victims will not report their experiences.