Social Governance

UK Cybersecurity Unit Deals with Several Online Scams in 2021

Published on: 12 May 2022 10:17 AM
by KnowESG

UK cybersecurity had a tough time dealing with online scams in 2021. Around 2.7 million internet scams were thwarted by the unit, which was a near-fourfold increase on the figure for 2020.

Fake celebrity endorsements and extortion emails were among the frauds thwarted by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), an arm of the GCHQ espionage agency. However, the agency communicated that the increase in detection was due to the unit's active targeting, not because of a surge in scams.

Lindy Cameron, the NCSC’s chief executive, said:

"We know that scammers will go to great lengths, and indeed my name has been used to trick people, but as we continue to expand our defences, we can see the tangible impact this is having."

The scams were investigated as part of the agency's active cyber defence programme, which targets high-volume attacks on individuals, businesses, and organisations. Phishing attempts are used in these attacks, in which the target is deceived into downloading malware or handing over their login credentials, usually by email.

According to the NCSC, Covid-19 sparked an increase in NHS-related scams. Last year, it deleted over 1,400 NHS-themed phishing efforts, an 11-fold increase over 2020, including bogus vaccine distribution messages and certificates.

The attempted Cameron scam consisted of a fake email pretending to be from the NCSC chief alerting the recipient that the unit had saved them £5 million in stolen funds and that they should reply with personal details to receive it back.

Among the false celebrity endorsements was a "special report" released on a fake BBC news page with the heading "Jeremy Clarkson provides British people with the chance to make millions from home," illustrated with photographs of Phillip Schofield, This Morning presenter, and not of the former Top Gear host.

Scam advertisements will be covered under the upcoming internet safety bill, which will mandate the top social media networks to ban paid-for fake advertisements from appearing on their platforms. Advertisements with bogus celebrity endorsements fall into this category.

Source: The Guardian