National Cyber Security Centre
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Campaign to help online Christmas shoppers fight festive fraud

The NCSC launches a new Cyber Aware campaign aimed at helping people shop securely online this Christmas.

  • With more people shopping online, major government advertising campaign ‘Cyber Aware’ will help people shop securely this Christmas
  • During the last festive period, victims of online shopping fraud in England and Wales lost an average of £775 each
  • Campaign to increase online protection has support of organisations such as Microsoft, Vodafone, BT, ASOS, Barclays and Citizens Advice

Shoppers buying Christmas presents online have been urged to follow a new cyber safety campaign after callous criminals swindled an average of £775 from each victim over the last festive period.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a part of GCHQ – has launched a major government advertising campaign called Cyber Aware, outlining six key behaviours to protect accounts and devices from the majority of online crime.

Statistics by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau have shown that over last year’s Christmas shopping period (1st November 2019 and 31st January 2020) there were 17,405 reports of online shopping fraud, reporting a loss of £13.5 million – an average of £775 per incident.

With more people expected to shop online this year due to coronavirus restrictions, a new NCSC website and television advertising campaign have been launched to advise on the six essential behaviours.

Lindy Cameron, Chief Executive of the NCSC said:

“Technology will play an essential role over the festive period, with more people shopping online than ever before.

“Scammers stole millions from internet shoppers last Christmas – but by following our advice, you can protect yourself from the majority of their crimes.

“We hope the Cyber Aware campaign helps people to shop confidently online and enjoy their Christmas.”

The Cyber Aware campaign is delivered by the NCSC working alongside the Home Office, the Cabinet Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and aims to help individuals and organisations to protect themselves online.

Penny Mordaunt, the Paymaster General, said:

“This year we have spent more time online than ever before. Whether it be working or shopping online, criminals and others often see the internet as another means to cause harm.

“As we approach the Christmas season, we should all be on our guard and take the practical Cyber Aware actions to keep us safe as we work, shop and socialise online.”

The Cyber Aware campaign encourages the public to adopt six behaviours to protect their online accounts and devices. These are:

  1. Use a strong and separate password for your email
  2. Create strong passwords using 3 random words
  3. Save your passwords in your browser
  4. Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA)
  5. Update your devices and apps
  6. Back up your data

The campaign is supported by leading organisations such as Microsoft, Vodafone, BT, ASOS, Barclays and Citizens Advice, who are actively helping their customers adopt Cyber Aware’s key behaviours.

Microsoft accounts and devices are protected with multi-factor authentication, which they say is an effective block against 99.9% of attacks on accounts.

Sian John, Chief Security Adviser at Microsoft UK, said:

“If you are shopping online this year, spend the time you would have spent wrapping up warm to head out to the shops on checking your online security.

“If it feels suspicious or unusual it may well be – and that is why, at Microsoft, we recognise the importance of Cyber Aware behaviours like multi-factor authentication and having strong and secure passwords.

“Let’s make sure the gifts we give this Christmas go to the people we love, not to the fraudsters who just want to steal your money.”

The Office of National Statistics’ Retail Sales Index has shown a significant growth in online shopping this year and Ofcom’s annual Online Nation survey showed that UK adults are spending more time online than ever before.

The new adverts, which will run until Christmas Eve, mark the first time the NCSC has launched a TV, radio and online advertising drive, and builds on the Cyber Aware campaign launched at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in spring.

Notes to editors

  • You can find out more about the Cyber Aware campaign at
  • Organisations make the choice to roll out 2FA depending on the types of data that they hold and their IT infrastructure. Our guidance to organisations on doing this at
  • According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, from November 1st 2019 to January 31st there were 17,405 reports of online shopping and auction fraud to Action Fraud with a total reporting loss of £13,495,376 covering Black Friday, Cyber Monday and traditional January sales period. This does not include Scotland.
  • If you have any additional questions, please contact

The NCSC works with a wide range of organisations to help the public adopt the Cyber Aware behaviours. Here are some examples of the activity to date:


Activity to support Cyber Aware


ASOS ran an online security social media campaign in Summer 2020 based on the Cyber Aware behaviours, which were also incorporated into advice on cyber security for customers available on its website.


Barclays have integrated the Cyber Aware behaviours into their ‘Digital Upskill’ programme which helps build people’s digital skills and is delivered in communities across the country and online by Barclays Digital Eagles. The Digital Wings online platform is also available to everyone and helps people continue their digital upskilling journey.


BT has integrated the Cyber Aware behaviours into the advice provided to customers through its call centres, SMS messages, online and TV adverts. BT Call Centre Advisors have received bespoke training on how to deliver the advice to customers.

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice has integrated the Cyber Aware behaviours into its dedicated Scams Action service. This enables Citizens Advice to provide its clients with bespoke guidance on how to protect their accounts and devices from an online scam.  

Law enforcement

The National Crime Agency has worked with the NCSC to produce an online security resource using the Cyber Aware behaviours for parents, carers and their children – this comprises of an article and short video, a family activity sheet, and cyber activities and game cards.

Policing’s Cyber PROTECT Network, led by the City of London Police, delivers the Cyber Aware advice into communities up and down the country. Officers provide presentations and run events to prevent online crimes and support victims to recover. The Cyber PROTECT network plays a vital part in delivering the Cyber Aware key messages.


Microsoft supports its customers in implementing the Cyber Aware behaviours across its products and services and has produced blogs and webinars to highlight the behaviours to customers, focusing on key topics such as remote working.

National Trading Standards

National Trading Standards will integrate the Cyber Aware behaviours into their nationwide Friends Against Scams programme. This initiative helps people recognise the signs that someone might be at risk of falling victim to a scam. Its advice then enables people to take action to prevent it.


Vodafone has integrated the Cyber Aware behaviours into a variety of online and printed resources for their customers and employees - creating awareness around key topics such as scams, oversharing, passwords, stranger danger, and healthy tech tips.

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