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NCSC catches a million phishes in its nets

The NCSC has racked up a million suspicious email reports from the public just two months after launching a reporting service, but the lucky sender won’t be receiving a grand prize

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has received the millionth submission to its Suspicious Email Reporting Service, just two months after it first launched in the face of a surge in spam and phishing attacks at the height of the first wave of the UK’s Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

The NCSC said that besides Covid-19-related lures, more than 10,000 of the malicious URLs blocked and removed as a result of the public’s reports related to cryptocurrency investment scams, promising people high returns in exchange for buying digital currencies.

Cryptocurrency scams have been recognised as a growing problem, and are thought to be behind millions of pounds of losses annually as criminals masquerading as crypto exchanges or traders con people into handing over their money.

Besides that, it also reported numerous examples of fake online shops and spoofs involving brands such as TV Licensing, HMRC, and the DVLA.

The security watchdog’s CEO Ciaran Martin thanked the public for its contribution, and urged people to stay vigilant, as cyber criminals continue to seek out new opportunities to rip off their victims.

“Reaching the milestone of one million suspicious emails reported is a fantastic achievement and testament to the vigilance of the British public,” said Martin. “The kind of scams we’ve blocked could have caused very real harm and I would like to thank everyone who has played their part in helping make the internet safer for all of us. 

“While it’s right that we should celebrate reaching this milestone, it is important for all of us to remain on our guard and forward any emails that don’t look right to [email protected].”  

Digital minister Oliver Dowden added: “We are committed to making the UK the safest place to be online and are working tirelessly to defeat cyber criminals. I urge everyone to continue reporting suspicious emails and follow our Cyber Aware campaign top tips for staying secure online alongside our world-leading NCSC advice.”

At the time of writing, the latest figures available showed that 10% of the scams reported to the NCSC were removed within an hour of the alert being received, and 40% were taken down within 24 hours.

The City of London Police, which administers the Action Fraud service and co-developed the NCSC’s reporting system, has also benefited from the service by getting access to real-time analysis capabilities that have helped it identify new patterns and trends in online offending.

Commander Karen Baxter, from the City of London Police, said there was no question that a vast number of incidents of fraud have been prevented by the service.

“Not only that, but it has allowed for vital intelligence to be collected by police and demonstrates the power of working together when it comes to stopping fraudsters in their tracks,” she said.

Read more about the NCSC’s coronavirus response

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