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

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

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

Avril O’Driscoll-Griffin pictured at the launch of Cyber Skills’ new national online service CheckMyLink, which helps shoppers check if websites are legitimate and safe to use. The initiative is aimed at online shoppers, who may be enticed to take a risk and purchase goods through fake links. Before you click on a link to shop, consumers are encouraged to check the link at check.cyberskills.ie. Photo: Darragh Kane

CheckMyLink (check.cyberskills.ie) is a new national service that will be led by Cyber Skills in association with Scam Advisor 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 asks online users to provide 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 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 may 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. It is available in English and Irish and for more information, please visit check.cyberskills.ie.

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