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Christmas shoppers warned by NCSC to be vigilant as cyber crime soars

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The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has warned shoppers to be extra savvy about cyber crime this Christmas as figures show that victims lost an average of £775 each during the last festive period.

It has launched a new 'Cyber Aware' campaign ahead of an expected record rush to online stores as people try to avoid busy high streets due to the threat of the coronavirus.

Statistics by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau have shown that over last year’s Christmas shopping period (1 November 2019 to 31 January 2020) there were 17,405 reports of online shopping fraud, reporting a loss of £13.5m in total or £775 per incident.

A new NCSC website and television advertising campaign will remind people it is important to use a strong and separate password for their email and encourages the use of two-factor authentication to log in to accounts.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit its stride in March, cyber criminals have ramped up their attacks to steal people’s data while the first month of lockdown saw a 72 per cent surge in financial losses from cyber crime.

Lindy Cameron, chief executive of the NCSC, 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.”

The Cyber Aware campaign is delivered by the NCSC working alongside 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.

Penny Mordaunt, the Paymaster General, said: “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 campaign is supported by organisations such as Microsoft, Vodafone, BT, ASOS, Barclays and Citizens Advice.

Microsoft accounts and devices are protected with multi-factor authentication, which they say is an effective block against 99.9 per cent of attacks on accounts.

Sian John, chief security adviser at Microsoft UK, said: “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.”

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