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Cyber strategy update shows how UK intelligence is thwarting attacks

Cyber strategy update shows how UK intelligence is thwarting attacks

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A scam to defraud thousands of UK citizens using a fake email address spoofing a UK airport was one of a wide range of cyberattacks successfully prevented by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a report has revealed.

Details of the criminal campaign are just one case study of many in Active Cyber Defence – The Second Year, the latest comprehensive analysis of the NCSC’s world-leading programme to protect the UK from cyberattacks.

The thwarting of the airport scam was one example in 2018 of how ACD protects the public – in this case preventing potentially thousands of people ending up out of pocket.

The incident occurred last August when criminals tried to send in excess of 200,000 emails purporting to be from a UK airport and using a non-existent gov.uk address in a bid to defraud people.

However, the emails never reached the intended recipients’ inboxes because the NCSC’s ACD system automatically detected the suspicious domain name and the recipient’s mail providers never delivered the spoof messages.

The real email account used by the criminals to communicate with victims was also taken down.

A combination of ACD services has helped HMRC’s own efforts in massively reducing the criminal use of its brand. HMRC was the 16th most phished brand globally in 2016, but by the end of 2018 it was 146th.

Dr Ian Levy, the NCSC’s Technical Director and author of the ACD report, said: “These are just two examples of the value of ACD – they protected thousands of UK citizens and further reduced the criminal utility of UK brands. Concerted effort can dissuade criminals and protect UK citizens.

“While this and other successes are encouraging, we know there is more to do and we would welcome partnerships with people and organisations who wish to contribute to the ACD ecosystem so that together we can further protect UK citizens.

“This second comprehensive analysis we have undertaken of the programme shows that this bold approach to preventing cyberattacks is continuing to deliver for the British public.”

For more information, visit https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/report/active-cyber-defence-report-2019

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