NatWest is offering customers a free malware protection service after a surge in online scams, costing affected consumers an average of £3,000-a-year according to research.

The Edinburgh-headquartered banking giant is to allow customers to use its Malwarebytes Premium subscription worth £49.99 which can be used on up to 10 devices.

The move came as UK Finance reported over 5,000 mobile devices were infected with malware in the first half of 2022, resulting in a total loss of £15.7m.

It’s estimated that on average, UK banking customers impacted by the malicious software are losing £3,000 per year.

Malware is software which could cause disruption to a mobile phone or computer or leak confidential information and gain unauthorised access to data.

It is often downloaded through fake apps such as QR scanners, torches, or even anti-virus applications. Email attachments or malicious websites, including unofficial App stores could also be sources of threats.

In 2022, NatWest’s Malwarebytes prevention software helped stop over seven million security threats that would have impacted NatWest customers.

The software, available for Android and Apple phones and tablets, Windows PCs and Mac devices, protects against viruses, ransomware (which can encrypt or delete files) and phishing scams, which try to steal personal data using fake emails and messages.

NatWest customers can access the software by clicking the security tab within their online banking, where they will receive a coupon and a link to the Malwarebytes site.

Stuart Skinner, head of fraud protection, said: “We are committed to helping our customers stay safe and secure and are continuously investing in new fraud prevention tools and the latest security technology. I urge you to download Malwarebytes today, to help ensure you are doing everything possible to protect yourself against this crime.”