A record number of online scams were removed from the internet last year thanks to the nation’s cyber experts significantly expanding the UK’s defences to push back against fraudsters, it has been revealed today.
Ahead of the opening of its conference, the National Cyber Security Centre – a part of GCHQ – disclosed that more than 2.7 million scam campaigns were stamped out in 2021, nearly four times more than in 2020.
The rise reflects the expansion of NCSC services to take down additional malicious online content, such as fake celebrity endorsement scams, rather than an increase in scams overall.
The work has been complemented by reports from the public of suspicious emails, texts and websites, which have enabled the NCSC to remove even more scams.
The celebrity scams and bogus extortion emails were the most commonly removed but other themes used by scammers included NHS vaccines and vaccine passports and even in one instance impersonating the CEO of the NCSC Lindy Cameron.
The NCSC removed more than 1,400 NHS-themed phishing campaigns last year – an 11-fold increase on 2020 – as scammers tried to trick people with fake messages about the vaccine rollout and certificates.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Ian Levy, NCSC Technical Director, said: “Over the past five years, our Active Cyber Defence programme has been central to preventing millions of cyber attacks from causing harm to the UK.
“The highlights shared today evidence some of the crucial interventions we made last year to take down online threats, deter attackers and improve our collective cyber resilience. We will publish the full annual report on our website in due course.”