Britain’s cybersecurity unit has reported a record crackdown on internet scams after battling more than 2.7 million fraud attempts last year, nearly four times as many as in 2020.
The National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), an arm of the spy agency GCHQ, said the scams that were disrupted included fake celebrity endorsements and fake extortion emails. He pointed out, however, that the increase in detection reflected aggressive targeting by the unit rather than an increase in scams.
Lindy Cameron, chief executive of NCSC, said a foiled scam involved a fraudster trying to impersonate her. “We know the scammers will go very far, and indeed my name has been used to try to fool people, but as we continue to expand our defenses we can see the tangible impact this is having,” he said. she declared.
The scams were tackled as part of the agency’s active cyber defense program, which targets high-volume attacks against members of the public, businesses and organizations. Attacks include phishing campaigns in which the victim is tricked, often via email, into downloading malware or handing over their login credentials.
Covid-19 has triggered an increase in NHS-related scams, the NCSC has said. It removed more than 1,400 NHS-themed phishing campaigns last year, an 11-fold increase from 2020, including fake messages about vaccine rollouts and certificates.
Cameron’s attempted scam was a bogus email claiming to be from the head of the NCSC telling the recipient that the unit had prevented the theft of £5m of his money and that he should respond with personal details to retrieve it.
The fake celebrity endorsements included a ‘special report’, published on a fake BBC news page, with the headline ‘Jeremy Clarkson gives Britons the chance to earn millions from home’, illustrated with photos not former Top Gear host but This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield instead.
The other type of scam aggressively targeted by the NCSC last year, fake extortion emails, involves falsely claiming that a victim’s email was hacked and saying that she has to pay money.
Fraudulent advertisements will be included in the scope of the upcoming online safety bill, meaning that the biggest social media platforms will be required to prevent paid fraudulent advertisements from appearing on their sites. This includes ads with false celebrity endorsements.