Cyber Skills Ireland launches new service for consumers to support safer online shopping

December 9, 2022
Cyber Skills Ireland launches new service for consumers to support safer online shopping

Recent consumer research* shows that nearly 40 percent of Irish shoppers plan on doing a mix of in-store vs online shopping this year. As we approach the festive season and ever more people are shopping online for gifts, Cyber Skills is launching a new national online service to help shoppers check if sites are legitimate and safe to use. The initiative is aimed at online shoppers, who may visit websites promoting deals and bargain prices.

CheckMyLink (check.cyberskills.ie) is a new national service that will be led by Cyber Skills in association with ScamAdviser and An Garda Síochána. The aim is to increase consumers' confidence that an online website that they are buying from is authentic, and to make sure that the website is not infected with malware. The service is easy to use and simply asks online users to provide only the URL of the website they are visiting. The service then generates an online report from trusted sources which is aimed at increasing consumers’ confidence that the website or link, is authentic and safe to browse.

Speaking about the announcement, Professor Donna O’ Shea, Chair of Cybersecurity, MTU said: “This year scammers and fraudsters are likely to attempt to exploit the fact that more of us are under pressure financially with increased energy costs and inflation, meaning we have less money in our pockets. They will try to exploit our natural behavioural response in becoming savvier with our money and seek bargains in sales and online shopping.”

“However, to mind your money this Christmas, savvy online buyers should be aware that scammers are very good at making fake websites look real, and unfamiliar websites should be checked before handing over well-earned cash or providing credit card information.”

William Dalton, Vice President and Managing Director of Trend Micro, who are sponsoring the initiative added: “Trend Micro is delighted to be partnering with CheckMyLink in our joint mission to protect Irish consumers against fraud related crime. As Christmas gets closer, our friends and relatives will be trying to buy gifts that are hard to source, and might be tempted to purchase them from a fake website. It is important that we are mindful of the websites we use.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Barry Walsh, Head of Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau, also highlighted: “There is an increased risk to consumers, particularly around this time of year, as hackers are using contaminated links hidden within emails, social media and other mainstream online platforms to gain access to passwords, credit card details or other sensitive information.

An Garda Síochána are supporting the new initiative to enable users verify the authenticity of web addresses and click-through domains prior to engaging with sites. It will also allow users to validate that they are legitimate entities.”

The national service is sponsored by the Science Foundation of Ireland’s (SFI) research centre’s LERO (Centre for Software), CONNECT (Centre for Future Networks) and CONFIRM (Centre for Smart Manufacturing) and Trend Micro and is available in English and Irish. For more information, please visit check.cyberskills.ie 

Cyber Skills is funded under the Higher Education Authority (HEA) Human Capital Initiative (HCI). Cyber Skills is hosted by MTU with partner HEIs including UL, UCD and TU Dublin. Its aim is to address the critical skills shortage of cybersecurity professionals in Ireland and to improve the cyber resilience of Irish citizens through skills, training, and research. For more information see www.cyberskills.ie