Hackers target Boris Johnson's government with 100,000 malicious emails every month

Top government departments have been attacked with over 100,000 spam emails, including phishing attacks and viruses, every month according to official figures published today

by Patrick Sullivan, Political Editor on 26 September 2019 09:59


Critical government departments are being bombarded with a myriad of over 100,000 spam emails, including phishing attacks and viruses, every month according to official figures. The findings, which were obtained under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act underline the cyber risks faced by public sector departments.

HM Treasury had been hit by a total of 3,703,266 spam emails over the two most recent financial years - with an average of 154,302 attacks a month. The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) reported 5,004,869 spam and virus emails for the entirety of 2018.

This equates to almost 420,000 attacks a month; data for 2019 is not held. Of the 5,004,869 malicious emails sent to DEFRA, 4,623,027 were classified as spam and 381,842 were sent as viruses. The Department for Education revealed that it has been hit by an average of 136,972 spam emails per month.

The department also recorded 455 anti-virus blocks over the past year, and the month with the most recorded spam attacks was April 2019, where it faced 154,488 spam email threats. HM Treasury actually saw a decrease in cyber attacks over the two financial years, with 2,088,111 recorded in 2017-18 and 1,615,155 recorded in 2018-19 - a percentile difference of -23%.

Tim Dunton, MD, Nimbus Hosting said, "It's clear that cyber criminals are bombarding critical government departments with a variety of sophisticated attacks in the form of malicious emails, in an attempt to dupe employees into handing over confidential data. "One of the most dangerous aspects of phishing emails is that to many workers they appear to be legitimate communication from say a bank or mobile operator.

Dunton continued, "Given that these departments hold some of the UK's most sensitive personal and financial data imaginable, it's critical that every employee is properly trained with the necessary cyber skills and remains vigilant to the very real threats posed by cyber criminals and fraudsters."

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