The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of the UK’s intelligence agency GCHQ, issues a warning as Black Friday approaches, advising shoppers to be vigilant against AI-powered scams. Cybercriminals are anticipated to use AI, particularly large language models, to create more sophisticated and convincing scam emails, fake ads, and deceptive websites.
Despite the potential for polished communication, typical scam indicators such as urgency, scarcity, and relevance to events like Black Friday remain unchanged. Shoppers are urged to adopt basic security measures like two-step verification and strong passwords to bolster their online resilience during this shopping season. New data from Revealing Reality/Yonder reveals that 72% of British people express concern that emerging technologies, including AI, could facilitate online fraud. The typical hallmarks of scams, previously identified through poor grammar or suspicious email addresses, may persist despite AI-generated more polished content in phishing attempts.
The NCSC emphasizes the importance of recognizing these indicators and encourages shoppers to remain cautious in the face of potentially more convincing scams. Basic email security measures, such as two-step verification and strong passwords, are recommended to mitigate the risks associated with cyber threats. The NCSC’s Cyber Aware campaign emphasizes actionable steps to enhance online resilience during the shopping season.
Shoppers are advised to set up two-step verification and use passwords comprising three random words. As part of the campaign, the NCSC launched a nationwide drive to raise awareness and promote these cybersecurity measures. In response to rising concerns about the impact of AI on fraud, the government plans to launch a national communications campaign in 2024, bringing together various stakeholders to educate the public on protecting themselves against fraud. Recent figures from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) indicate that British people lost £10.6 million to online scammers between November 2022 and January 2023.
Each victim lost an average of £639, with social media platforms identified as the most common medium for shopping and auction fraud. The age group most susceptible to scams was 25–34-year-olds, followed closely by the 35–44 and 18–24 age groups. These statistics highlight the urgency for individuals to adopt cybersecurity measures and exercise caution, especially during peak shopping seasons with increased online activity.