In early December, the National Cyber Security Centre, a UK-based cybersecurity body and a part of GCHQ, kicked off the next chapter of its Cyber Aware campaign initiative, focusing on online shopping threats during the Christmas season.
Cyber Aware is the UK government’s "national campaign on cybersecurity" aimed at helping the public and businesses of all sizes understand how they can stay safe online.
According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), a police unit that gathers and analyzes intelligence regarding financially motivated cybercrime, 13.5M GBP was lost to shopping fraud between November 2019 and January 2020. That's an average loss of 775 GBP per reported incident.
"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," says Penny Mordaunt, Paymaster General in the Cabinet Office of the United Kingdom. "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."
With more and more internet users expected to shop online this festive season, thanks to the current pandemic, it is more important than ever for shoppers to be on the lookout for potentially fraudulent activity and practice the necessary behaviors to protect themselves against it. Cyber Aware has listed six such behaviors, as follows:
- Use a strong and separate password for your email
- Create strong passwords using 3 random words
- Save your passwords in your browser
- Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA)
- Update your devices and apps
- Back up your data
You can read and learn more about these points in depth by visiting this page.
"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," says Sian John, Microsoft UK’s Chief Security Advisor, "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 announcement of this new Cyber Aware campaign came on the heels of the release of the NCSC’s fourth Annual Review Report [PDF]. In it, the NCSC covers its activities and achievements from September 2019 to August 2020.
Highlights include the launch of its Suspicious Email Reporting Services, wherein 2.3 million reports were submitted by the British public; the publication of multiple guidelines on relevant cybersecurity topics, such as the secure usage of smart security cameras, safe ways to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic, the proper procurement of mobile devices of the workplace, and things to consider before buying cyber insurance; and partnering with other organizations to advocate a cause, such as helping increase female representation in cybersecurity.