Covid-related phishing fuels 15-fold rise in scam removal in the UK

The UK’s cybersecurity agency- the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has unveiled that it has taken down more online scams last year than in the previous three years combined. Reportedly, NHS-theme based, and coronavirus related cybercrimes are mainly fueling the rise.

According to the NCSC, experts recorded a 15-fold increase in the removal of online campaigns as compared to 2019.

It has been reported that there was a rise in the number of phishing attacks that used NHS branding to deceive the victims. In these attacks, rollout of Covid-19 vaccine was used to lure people via text message and emails to extract their personal information for fraud. Reportedly, forty-three fraudulent NHS Covid-19 apps were also identified that were hosted outside of official app stores.

Dr Ian Levy, the technical director at the NCSC stated that considerable rise in scams related to Covid-19, fake PPE shops, fraud vaccine shops shows that the criminals can boundlessly exploit the situation and create a fear of defrauding and harming people.

According to credible sources, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the most copied brand used by the fraudsters, with over 4,000 campaigns, followed by the government’s website- and TV Licensing.

The NCSC’s fourth active cyber defense report revealed that more than 700,500 campaigns were removed, representing 1,448,214 URLs.  

Another issue that was noted is endorsement scams, which falsely claimed to be supported by celebrities like Martin Lewis and Sir Richard Branson. These scams reportedly used UK newspaper branding also.

The report has appeared before the beginning of the two-day CyberUK event, wherein experts from the NCSC are expected to speak, along with Priti Patel, the home secretary, Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, and Jeremy Fleming, the director of the GCHQ.

Meanwhile, Lindy Cameron, the chief executive at the NCSC, stated that whether it is about protecting the important research pertaining to the vaccine or helping people work remotely with high security, the NCSC has collaborated with partners for protecting the digital homeland in these unprecedented times.

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Having completed her Post Graduate degree in Digital Marketing, Shreshtha always nurtured an innate passion for writing. She works as a content writer at and pens down news articles spanning numerous verticals. Her other interests include reading and travelling.