Garda backed Scam Prevention Tool Launched by MTU Cyber Skills ahead of Black Friday and Christmas

21 Nov, 2023

Min read

Avril Griffen O Shea shopping online on laptop on christmas tree cyber security courses

As the countdown to the festive shopping frenzy begins, MTU Cyber Skills has launched a new line of defence for online shoppers: CheckMyLink at https://check.cyberskills.ie is a scam prevention tool and a timely response to the expected surge in cybercrime as substantial sums are set to be spent online on Black Friday sales and Christmas presents.

What is CheckMyLink?

CheckMyLink, is a security tool built by MTU Cyber Skills in collaboration with Scam Advisor and An Garda Síochána. It is designed to boost your confidence when shopping online. It checks that the website you're about to buy from is genuine and free from malware. All you need to do is enter the website’s address (URL) and CheckMyLink will quickly tell you if it’s a safe place to shop.

Donna O’ Shea, Chair of Cybersecurity, MTU alerts shoppers with a stark reminder: "While Christmas is a season of giving, for cyber criminals it's the season of stealing. CheckMyLink provides an essential check to ensure that online retailers are legitimate before any money changes hands."

Seasonal Spending with a Side of Security

In 2022 Ireland spent €3.5 billion online in December and €3.7 billion in November. [1] [2] This year it is expected these figures will increase as they have done every year. However, this heightened activity also brings with it an increased risk of online scams and fraudulent activities. As consumers search the internet for the best deals, they often encounter irresistible offers that may, in reality, be traps set by cybercriminals. These scams can range from phishing attempts to counterfeit websites designed to steal personal and financial information. Given this backdrop, it's crucial for consumers in Ireland to be particularly vigilant while shopping online during the Black Friday, Cyber Monday sales and for Christmas shopping.

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 to 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.”

Donna O'Shea's Advice for Shoppers

Donna O'Shea advises a new shopping mantra for the digital age: "Click and collect should now be, 'Check, click and collect,' we are urging the use of check.cyberskills.ie as an essential step before any online purchase."

William Dalton, Vice President and Managing Director of Trend Micro, the sponsors of the initiative, shared: "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."

 

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