On April 21, UK government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) launched the highly anticipated Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) that allows Brits to report any phishing or suspicious emails they receive in their inboxes — including Covid-19 related ones.
Today, NCSC announced it hit a new achievement. In just two months after its christening, SERS received one million reports from the British public, with a daily average of 16,500 emails.
Part of the Cyber Aware campaign showing internet users how to maintain good cyber hygiene habits and stay safe online, SERS helps security minded citizens brush up on their phishing email spotting and actively participate in blocking cybercrime.
The NCSC reports it was able to block or take down 10,200 malicious URLs linked to 3,485 individual sites. More than half of these scams relate to cryptocurrency schemes. However, the tool also detected fake online shops and spoofs involving brands such as TV Licensing, HMRC, Gov.uk and the DVLA.
“Unquestionably, a vast number of frauds will have been prevented, thanks to the public reporting all these phishing attempts”, Karen Baxter from the City of London Police said. “Not only that, but it has allowed for vital intelligence to be collected by police and demonstrates the power of working together when it comes to stopping fraudsters in their tracks.”
10% of the scams were removed within an hour of them being reported, and 40% were taken down 24 hours after they’d been flagged.
“The kind of scams we’ve blocked could have caused very real harm and I would like to thank everyone who has played their part in helping make the internet safer for all of us”, NCSC Chief Executive Officer Ciaran Martin, said. “While it’s right that we should celebrate reaching this milestone, it is important for all of us to remain on our guard and forward any emails that don’t look right to email@example.com.”
After a suspicious email is forwarded to NCSC, authorities will analyze the message and any associated webpages. Should malicious activity be discovered, security experts will attempt to block the sender’s email address and remove any malicious websites associated with that address. Even if the organization cannot individually confirm the outcome of their review, it reassures users that all submissions will be carefully inspected and acted upon.
Users should also be aware that the online reporting service is not a means for submitting fraud complaints. Consumers that suffered any fraudulent attempts are urged to notify the UK’s National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre on Action Fraud.