Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, the National Cyber Security Centre has taken down 2,000 internet scams seeking to dupe people looking for advice or services related to the pandemic.
To support its work in identifying and dismantling future cybercrime campaigns, the NCSC has this week launched the Cyber Aware programme, which aims to provide advice to the public and encourage citizens to report suspected email scammers.
In the last two months, the cyber-specialised agency – which is part of the intelligence organisation GCHQ – has taken down 471 coronavirus-related fraudulent online stores, 555 sites spreading malware and 200 more dedicated to phishing, and 832 frauds in which an initial payment is sought on the promise of the return of a large sum of money.
To assist in taking out similar scams, citizens are asked to report any suspected fraud attempts to the newly launched Suspicious Email Reporting Service. Reports can be filed simply by forwarding the email in question to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NCSC chief executive Ciaran Martin said: “Technology is helping us cope with the coronavirus crisis and will play a role helping us out of it – but that means cybersecurity is more important than ever. 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.”
He added: “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 – and if they link to malicious content, it will be taken down or blocked. By forward messages to us, you will be protecting the UK from email scams and cybercrime.”
Alongside the reporting service, the broader Cyber Aware campaign is intended to promote online practices and behaviours that could discourage, prevent, or mitigate cyberthreats.
As part of the comms drive, the NCSC has published its six top tips for online safety: “create a separate password for your email; create a strong password using three random words; save your passwords in your browser; turn on two-factor authentication; update your devices; [and] turn on backup”.
With remote working and socialising now taking place on a huge scale, there are also specific advice resources for both individuals and businesses using videoconferencing services. Companies looking to choose which platform they should adopt are encouraged to refer to NCSC guidelines to “perform a security risk assessment across a shortlist of providers”.