Over 5,000 suspect emails were reported to the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre by Wednesday, just a day after the new cyber crime reporting service was launched to check fake coronavirus-related messages tricking people into online harm.
The service was launched on Tuesday alongside the new cross-governmental campaign Cyber Aware, which promotes recommended behaviours to stay as secure as possible online.
The Cyber Aware campaign is delivered by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) working alongside the UK Home Office, Cabinet Office and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
The NCSC was launched as the experts at the government’s cyber security centre noted a trend of fake coronavirus-related services in malicious emails tricking people into online harm. Over 5,000 suspect emails were reported to the centre by Wednesday.
The NCSC has clamped down on at least 83 web scams within a day after it launched a new “Suspicious Email Reporting Service” for the public.
This “Suspicious Email Reporting Service” was co-developed with the City of London Police. Apart from taking down malicious sites, it will support UK policing by providing live time analysis of reports and identifying new patterns in online offending – helping them stop even more offenders in their tracks.
“The immediate take-up of our new national reporting service shows that the UK is united in its defence against callous attempts to trick people online,” said NCSC CEO Ciaran Martin.
“While we have not seen a rise in email scams in the last month, coronavirus is the top lure currently used to conduct cyber crime, exploiting public unease and fear of the pandemic. We hope the success of the ‘Suspicious Email Reporting Service’ deters criminals from such scams, but if you do receive something that doesn’t look right forward the message to us, you will be helping to protect the UK from email scams and cyber crime,” he said.
Once any dubious emails, including those claiming to offer support related to coronavirus are forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org, the NCSC’s automated programme immediately tests the validity of the site. Any sites found involved in phishing scams are removed immediately.
“This new service allows the public to take the power back from the criminal, and it’s fantastic so many people have utilised it already. This will assist the police in tracking down those responsible for sending these scam emails, and help in bringing them to justice,” said Commander Karen Baxter, City of London Police, National Lead for Fraud.
The initial 83 takedowns relate to phishing attacks, or untargeted mass emails sent to many people asking for sensitive information (such as bank details) or encouraging you to visit a fake website. The NCSC said it had been taking down malicious sites since its creation in 2016, and its Active Cyber Defence programme last year took down 190,000 fraudulent sites and stopped 140,000 phishing attacks.
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