British consumers have been warned to remain vigilant for online fraud and cyberattacks during the run-up to Christmas.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has urged consumers to follow tips detailed in its new Cyber Aware online safety campaign.
The call follows an up-surge in cyber threats during 2020, with cybercriminals and hackers increasingly targeting both businesses and consumers. Each year, the Christmas period is a lucrative time for cybercriminals, with many preying on unsuspecting shoppers.
Statistics published by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau show that across last year’s Christmas shopping period – ranging from 1st November 2019 to 31st January 2020 – there were 17,405 reports of online shopping fraud.
In total, more than £13.5 million was lost to online fraud during last year’s Christmas shopping period, with an average loss of £775 logged per incident.
British consumers are expected to shop online in record numbers this year due to coronavirus restrictions. According to the Office of National Statistics’ Retail Sales Index, there has been significant growth in online shopping since the onset of the pandemic.
Similarly, data published by Ofcom shows that adults across the UK are spending record levels of time online.
Lindy Cameron, Chief Executive of the NCSC, said the new awareness campaign could help save consumers from falling victim.
“Technology will play an essential role over the festive period, with more people shopping online than ever before,” she said.
“Scammers stole millions from internet shoppers last Christmas – but by following our advice, you can protect yourself from the majority of their crimes,” Cameron added.
Staying Safe Online
The NCSC Cyber Aware campaign encourages the public to adopt six key behaviours to protect their online accounts and devices, including:
- 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
A host of major companies have pledged their support for the campaign, which is set to broadcast ads online and via television. These include Microsoft, Vodafone, BT, ASOS, Barclays and Citizens Advice.
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Sian John, Chief Security Adviser at Microsoft UK, commented: “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.
“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.”