Cyber Aware campaign to help safeguard Christmas shoppers

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The UK government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is today launching a major advertising campaign incorporating its Cyber Aware guidance to raise awareness of online retail fraud and protect consumers shopping online in the run-up to Christmas.

Developed with the support of the Cabinet Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the campaign will set out the six key Cyber Aware behaviours designed to protect consumer accounts and devices from online crime.

The NCSC said that from 1 November 2019 to 31 January 2020, cyber criminals swindled an average of £775 per person from almost 17,500 victims in the UK, representing a total loss of £13.3m over the festive season. As previously explored by Computer Weekly, with the Covid-19 pandemic forcing more people to shop online than ever before, it is likely this figure will increase this year.

The NCSC’s new chief executive, Lindy Cameron, 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.”

Paymaster general Penny Mordaunt added: “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 six Cyber Aware behaviours outlined in the new campaign, which runs until Christmas Eve and will be the NCSC’s first ever national TV campaign, are as follows:

  1. Use a strong and separate password for your email.
  2. Create strong passwords using three 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 Cyber Aware programme has already been incorporated into of many of the partner organisations involved in the campaign, which includes retailers Asos, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, as well as the likes of Barclays, BT, Citizens Advice, Microsoft and Vodafone.

Asos, for example, ran an online security social media campaign during the summer, incorporating the Cyber Aware guidelines into advice on security for its customers that it made available on its website, while Barclays has integrated the six behaviours into its community digital skills programme, and BT has integrated them into advice it gives to customers contacting its call centres, as well as its own online and TV ads.

Microsoft, meanwhile, supports its customers in implementing the six Cyber Aware behaviours across its product and services base, producing blogs and webinars to highlight them, with a particular focus on some key topics such as remote working.

Microsoft UK chief security adviser Sian John 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,” she said.

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