British users are reporting over 7 million suspicious emails to the authorities a year, around one every five seconds.
This is the startling figure released by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of GCHQ. It said that around 7.1 million reports of spurious emails came in during 2022 alone. What’s more, the number of dodgy emails actually in circulation is thought to be significantly higher still, with the NCSC’s Suspicious Email Reporting Service just one avenue that users can take (and many more emails simply going unreported).
For its part, GCHQ said it has worked on consumer reports and used these tip offs to remove 235,000 website links from the internet since the email reporting service was launched back in April 2020.
To use the NCSC’s Suspicious Email Reporting Service, users simply need to forward anything that doesn’t look right to email@example.com for it to be investigated.
Last year saw a marked increase in the number of phishing scams, where cybercriminals use fake profiles to trick users into paying money they think is going to a legitimate business. For this, emails claim to be from a high street bank or the tax office, for example, asking users to input their details so a payment can be processed or their identity can be verified. Of course, these emails are not legitimate and the information gleaned from these attacks can be used to take money from the victim’s bank or set up a new account using a stolen identity.
The NCSC warned that real-world events such as the cost of living crisis are making things much easier for the cybercriminals – who opportunistically use them to give their fake emails added credibility and hoodwink more victims.
To combat this, the authorities have promised to educate the public so they can be the first – and best – line of defence against these attacks, by simply knowing what to look for.
NCSC’s Director for National Resilience and Future Technology, Jonathon Ellison, told Techradar: “The public has a key role to play in making the internet safer, and the NCSC will continue to make that accessible through free, easy-to-use tools and expert advice which can help individuals to shore up their defences with no specialist knowledge.”