More than 80 coronavirus-related phishing and scam websites have been taken down just one day after the UK's National Cyber Security Centre asked for the public to report suspicious emails.
On Tuesday, the NCSC, in collaboration with the government and the City of London Police, launched the 'Suspicious Email Reporting Service', urging people to alert the authorities about potential cyberattacks and scams – whether they're related to coronavirus or something else.
Now, just 24 hours after the service went live, the NCSC has received over 5,000 reports of potentially suspicious websites – and 83 cyber-criminal campaigns have been taken down. It adds to the 2,000 taken down already.
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"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.
"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 added.
Emails forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org are analysed by an automated service and if they're identified as suspicious, the NCSC acts to take them down – with the aim of deterring wannabe cyber criminals from the idea of creating malicious services to prey on coronavirus fears in the first place.
"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," said Commander Karen Baxter of City of London Police.
"This will assist the police in tracking down those responsible for sending these scam emails, and help in bringing them to justice," she added.
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While the overall number of phishing emails and malicious websites hasn't risen, cyber criminals are increasingly turning to coronavirus as a subject to lure unsuspecting victims into giving away login credentials, payment card details and other personal information.
The coronavirus pandemic has also led to record numbers of organisations requiring people to work from home – and in many cases, those employees haven't had any previous experience of working remotely and could be unaware of some of the potential security risks.
Along with the email reporting service, the NCSC has issued six tips to help people stay safe online. They are:
- Turn on two-factor authentication for important accounts
- Protect important accounts using a password of three random words
- Create a separate password that you only use for your main email account
- Update the software and apps on your devices regularly (ideally set to 'automatically update')
- Save your passwords in your browser
- To protect yourself from being held to ransom, back up important data
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