The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a part of GCHQ – have launched a major government advertising campaign called Cyber Aware, outlining six key behaviours to protect accounts and devices from the majority of online crime.
Statistics by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau have shown that over last year’s Christmas shopping period (1st November 2019 and 31st January 2020) there were 17,405 reports of online shopping fraud, reporting a loss of £13.5 million – an average of £775 per incident.
With more people expected to shop online this year due to coronavirus restrictions, a new NCSC website and television advertising campaign have been launched to advise on the six essential behaviours.
Lindy Cameron, Chief Executive of the NCSC said:
“Technology will play an essential role over the festive period, with more people shopping online than ever before.
“Scammers stole millions from internet shoppers last Christmas – but by following our advice, you can protect yourself from the majority of their crimes.
“We hope the Cyber Aware campaign helps people to shop confidently online and enjoy their Christmas.”
The Cyber Aware campaign is delivered by the NCSC working alongside the Home Office, the Cabinet Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and aims to help individuals and organisations to protect themselves online.
Penny Mordaunt, the Paymaster General, said:
“This year we have spent more time online than ever before. Whether it be working or shopping online, criminals and others often see the internet as another means to cause harm.
“As we approach the Christmas season, we should all be on our guard and take the practical Cyber Aware actions to keep us safe as we work, shop and socialise online.”
The Cyber Aware campaign encourages the public to adopt six behaviours to protect their online accounts and devices. These are:
1. Use a strong and separate password for your email
2. Create strong passwords using 3 random words
3. Save your passwords in your browser
4. Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA)
5. Update your devices and apps
6. Back up your data
The campaign is supported by leading organisations such as Microsoft, Vodafone, BT, ASOS, Barclays and Citizens Advice, who are actively helping their customers adopt Cyber Aware’s key behaviours.
Microsoft accounts and devices are protected with multi-factor authentication, which they say is an effective block against 99.9% of attacks on accounts.
Sian John, Chief Security Adviser at Microsoft UK, said:
“If you are shopping online this year, spend the time you would have spent wrapping up warm to head out to the shops on checking your online security.
“If it feels suspicious or unusual it may well be – and that is why, at Microsoft, we recognise the importance of Cyber Aware behaviours like multi-factor authentication and having strong and secure passwords.
“Let’s make sure the gifts we give this Christmas go to the people we love, not to the fraudsters who just want to steal your money.”
The Office of National Statistics’ Retail Sales Index has shown a significant growth in online shopping this year and Ofcom’s annual Online Nation survey showed that UK adults are spending more time online than ever before.
The new adverts, which will run until Christmas Eve, mark the first time the NCSC has launched a TV, radio and online advertising drive, and builds on the Cyber Aware campaign launched at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in spring.