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Nearly quarter of a million malicious websites reported and removed through NCSC service

A suspicious email and text message reporting service in the UK has directly led to a quarter of a million malicious websites being removed

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said its suspicious email reporting service has received 21 million reports, leading to more than 235,000 malicious websites being removed since its launch in April 2020.

The Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS), launched by the NCSC and the City of London Police, has removed 54,000 text message scams after 7,726 suspicious texts were reported to it. SERS is free of charge, and enables providers to take down malicious websites and block texts from being sent across their networks.

In an email from cyber crime reporting service Action Fraud to its subscribers, commander Nik Adams at the City of London Police said: “Every year, thousands of people in the UK are scammed by a fraudulent email or text message.

“Phishing scams, whether it’s a text message claiming you have missed a delivery and are required to pay a redelivery fee, or an email claiming to be from your bank, are common security challenges that both individuals and businesses across the UK face on a daily basis.”

Andy Kays, CEO at UK-based cyber security supplier Socura, said he is “inclined to take a glass-half-full view of the new NCSC figures”.

“Some people may be concerned that the number of phishing scams reported through NCSC’s SERS has risen so drastically,” he said. “It’s true that 10 million to 21 million reports in the space of a year is not a jump, it is a leap. However, I think this is a testament to people being more attuned to cybersecurity threats.

“Phishing campaigns soared during the pandemic, but the result today is that people are better at spotting them, and more people are actually taking the time to report them,” said Kays. “It suggests that the NCSC service is becoming more popular and more well-known among the general population. Brands are also far better at guiding customers on how to report phishing campaigns if scammers are impersonating them.”

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But he added that these numbers are likely only a fraction of the real figures. “Only a small percentage of phishing emails and texts are ever reported,” said Kays. “You also have to remember that cyber criminals and professional scammers are hydras. If you chop off one head, two more will emerge.

“We can applaud the NCSC for removing 235,000 malicious websites and 54,000 text scams, but we should not pretend that others haven’t emerged in their place,” he said.

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