The National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) fourth annual Active Cyber Defence report has seen a huge FIFTEEN-fold increase in the number of cyber scams removed from the Internet over the last year.

Some 700,000 online scams linked to 1.4 million spam URLs were removed during 2020 alone. In fact, the total number of threats taken down in 2020 was more than the previous three years combined.

Cyber criminals have been trying to take advantage of businesses made vulnerable by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have furloughed staff and moved to remote working, with the changes leaving the door open for opportunistic criminals to strike.

The findings were based on the work of the NCSC’s Active Cyber Defence programme, which sees cyber experts banding together to take down potent online threats. The service was increased during 2020 in recognition of the expansion of threats – with over 4 million suspect emails being reported by members of the public.

Neuways’ Managing Director, Martin Roberts, said of the increase: “We have certainly seen an increase in cyber scams and phishing attacks since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

“It has never been easier to launch phishing campaigns than it is currently, with cyber criminals selling their threats on the Dark Web – meaning those running the campaigns themselves don’t understand the malware they are using.

“It means businesses have never been at more risk from cyber attacks than they are at present.”

While many of the most popular scams have used the NHS as a target, with 122 phishing campaigns spotted using false NHS branding, businesses are at risk too. Among some of the scams set up are fake UK government websites and Microsoft 365-themed campaigns, which require employees to enter their account credentials into spoofed login pages. Key facts and figures from the report include:

  • More than 11,000 UK government-themed phishing campaigns being taken down – over double the amount in 2019.
  • The 4m emails reported last year led to 26,000 scams being removed that had not been previously identified.
  • The most phished UK government brand was Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as tax scams remained most popular at the start of the new tax year in April.

Neuways advises businesses to remain aware of the potential for cyber scams. As Martin mentions above, organisations have never been at more risk. To restrict downtime caused by cyber attacks, or indeed any one of the nine threats to business’, a comprehensive Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) plan is the solution. By introducing a multi-layered BCDR plan, if a business is ever breached, then they will be able to bounce back with relatively little downtime – reducing losses and getting operations back up and running.

Equally so, by ensuring its employees are set with up-to-date Phishing Awareness Training, businesses can ensure that their gatekeepers are not opening up the door to cyber criminals by engaging with phishing emails, text and phone calls.

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If you need urgent help with dealing with phishing campaigns, and preparing for the worst, please contact Neuways on 01283 753333 or email