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Black Friday bargain hunters warned of enhanced online scams after millions lost last year

Further to our blog last week about the NCSC's (National Cyber Security Centre's) tools for small businesses, a further warning has been issued by the NCSC in regard to Black Friday shopping.

The following information is from the NCSC website:

Cyber security chiefs are encouraging Black Friday bargain hunters to increase their vigilance this shopping season as online fraudsters are likely to use artificial intelligence (AI) to increase the perceived legitimacy of their scams.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – which is a part of the UK’s intelligence agency GCHQ – is warning that cyber criminals are likely to use AI technology such as large language models to produce more convincing scam emails, fake adverts, and bogus websites.

While AI offers huge opportunities for society, it can also be exploited by fraudsters to help them produce accurate and professional looking content intended to dupe victims into giving away their financial details or download malware on an increasingly large scale.

The warning comes as new data from Revealing Reality/Yonder found that 72% of British people are worried that new technology such as AI will make it easier for criminals to commit online fraud.

Previously, scams could often be identified by features such as poor grammar or spelling, come from an unusual email address, or feature imagery or design that feels ‘off’. But while AI might generate more polished communication in phishing attempts, many of the typical hallmarks of a scam remain the same.

The NCSC is urging shoppers to look out for:

  1. Urgency: Are you told you only have a limited time to respond? Criminals often threaten negative consequences or costs.

  2. Scarcity: Is the message offering something in short supply? Fear of missing out on a good deal can make you respond quickly.

  3. Current events, such as Black Friday: Criminals will often exploit current news stories or specific times of year to make their scam seem more relevant.

Shoppers are also being reminded that while scams are increasingly convincing, it is even more important to have basic security measures in place when it comes to email security, including switching on 2-step verification (2SV) and have a strong password made up of three random words.



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