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NCSC removes over 2,000 online coronavirus scams

GCHQ offshoot also publishes cyber security advice for remote workers

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has published new cyber security advice for people working from home during the lockdown after taking down 2,000 online scams which targeted people looking for coronavirus-related services.

Out of the 2,000 online scams, 471 were fake online shops, 200 were phishing sites and 555 were malware distribution sites. The NCSC also shut down 832 advance-fee frauds which promised a large sum of money in return for a set-up payment.

In an effort to tackle COVID 19-related cyber attacks, sparked by the influx of employees working from home due to the coronavirus lockdown, the NCSC has also released new advice for individuals and organisations hosting online video conferences.

The guide for organisations includes information on how to a secure video conferencing tool and ensure the protection of video calls and other confidential work-related files, 

The NCSC also advised video call organisers to take steps to verify the identity of all participants on the call and to remove them from if they cannot be successfully identified.

Digital Infrastructure minister Matt Warman warned of cyber criminals “exploiting this crisis to target people and organisations”.

“I urge everyone to remain vigilant online, follow the National Cyber Security Centre's guidance on passwords and account security, and report suspected coronavirus related scams if you see them,” he said.

Along with the video conferencing advice, the NCSC has also launched a cross-governmental ‘Cyber Aware’ campaign, which offers advice on how to protect passwords, accounts and devices from cyber attacks, as well as the ‘Suspicious Email Reporting Service’, which will enable people to forward suspicious emails to the NCSC.

NCSC Chief Executive Officer Ciaran Martin warned that “even with the best security in place, some attacks will still get through”.

“That’s why we have created a new national reporting service for suspicious emails – and if they link to malicious content, it will be taken down or blocked,” he said. “By forward messages to us, you will be protecting the UK from email scams and cyber crime.”

Minister for Security James Brokenshire called the attempts to use the coronavirus crisis as means for cyber attacks “despicable”.

“I encourage everyone to follow the Cyber Aware advice and to use the Suspicious Email Reporting Service,” he said. “They provide important new ways in which we can protect ourselves as well as our families and businesses.”

Further video conferencing security guidance is available here.

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