BBC News

Cyber-warning for festive shoppers

By Gordon Corera
Security correspondent

Published
image copyrightNCSC
image captionThe ad campaign will run on TV and radio as well as online

Online shoppers are being warned of the risks of cyber-fraud during the festive season.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) - part of GCHQ - is launching a major campaign called Cyber Aware with its first ever TV ads.

It says over last year's Christmas shopping period there was an average loss of £775 per incident from online shopping fraud.

The NCSC is outlining six key things people can do to protect accounts.

Online shopping has seen significant growth this year and is likely to reach new levels at Christmas - even with High Street shops now re-open again in many areas.

And with that comes the risk from criminals.

The NCSC is working on the campaign with 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.

"Scammers stole millions from internet shoppers last Christmas - but by following our advice, you can protect yourself from the majority of their crimes," said Lindy Cameron, chief executive of the NCSC.

"We hope the Cyber Aware campaign helps people to shop confidently online and enjoy their Christmas."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionOnline shoppers will be advised to use two-factor authentication

Statistics by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau reveal that over last year's Christmas shopping period (from November 2019 to end of January 2020) there were 17,405 reports of online shopping fraud, reporting a loss of £13.5m - an average of £775 per incident, according to the NCSC.

As well as a website, there is also a television and radio advertising campaign running until Christmas Eve to advise on six essential behaviours to protect online accounts and devices.

These are:

  • use a strong and separate password for your email
  • create strong passwords using three random words
  • save your passwords in your browser
  • turn on two-factor authentication (2FA)
  • update your devices and apps
  • back up your data

"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," Penny Mordaunt, the Paymaster General said.

Related Topics

  • Cyber-attacks
  • GCHQ

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