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Public embraces email reporting service created after spike in coronavirus-related scams

As part of the Cyber Aware campaign, the NCSC successfully launched its suspicious email reporting service (SERS), resulting dozens of malicious web campaigns shut down in its first day after spike in coronavirus phishing scams.

  • More than 80 malicious web campaigns taken down in a day after 5,000 suspicious emails were flagged to new cyber service for investigation within a day of its launch
  • The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre experts had seen a growth in the use of fake coronavirus-related services in malicious emails tricking people into online harm
  • The NCSC, a part of GCHQ, yesterday urged people to flag such campaigns to their new world-leading ‘Suspicious Email Reporting Service’ while launching Cyber Aware
  • Campaign teaches six actionable steps to stay safe online as the country continues to rely more on technology while staying at home to protect the NHS and save lives

Security conscious Britons have been praised after they embraced a service launched yesterday to stop malicious email campaigns with more than 5,000 reports – leading to 83 scams being nullified.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) launched the pioneering ‘Suspicious Email Reporting Service’ on Tuesday 21 April to make it easier than ever to flag suspicious emails – including those claiming to offer services related to coronavirus.

Empowering people to simply forward questionable emails to [email protected] meant that the service had already received 5,151 reports as of 1200 the day after launching.

NCSC Chief Executive Officer Ciaran Martin said:

“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.

“While we have not seen a rise in email scams in the last month, coronavirus is the top lure currently used to conduct cyber crime, exploiting public unease and fear of the pandemic.

“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.”

By forwarding any dubious emails – including those claiming to offer support related to coronavirus – to [email protected], the NCSC’s automated programme will immediately test the validity of the site. Any sites found to be phishing scams will be removed immediately.

The service was launched yesterday alongside the new cross-governmental Cyber Aware campaign, which promotes recommended behaviours to stay as secure as possible online.

The Cyber Aware campaign will be delivered by the NCSC working alongside the Home Office, the Cabinet Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Minister for Security James Brokenshire said:

"Technology is helping us to keep connected during this challenging period but scammers are cynically looking to exploit this too.

"The new email reporting service helps to combat this and the results so far show how valuable this tool is.”

This Suspicious Email Reporting Service was co-developed with the City of London Police. As well as taking down malicious sites it will support UK policing by providing live time analysis of reports and identifying new patterns in online offending - helping them stop even more offenders in their tracks.

Commander Karen Baxter, City of London Police, National Lead for Fraud, said:

“Technology is helping us keep connected during coronavirus, but it is sometimes exploited by criminals.

“The new email reporting service helps to combat this and the results so far show how valuable this tool is.”

If people have lost money, they should tell their bank and report it as a crime to Action Fraud, but sending emails to [email protected] will offer an automated service to people who flag what they think to be a suspicious email.

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