Kew Gardens hit with 4.4 million spam email attacks in 2019

Email attacks on London's premier beauty spot continue as hackers and mischief-makers issu

by Patrick Sullivan, Political Editor on 21 January 2020 14:36

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The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (“RBG Kew”) has been targeted by a total of 4,430,960 spam, phishing or malware email attacks throughout 2019, according to official data collated by Nimbus Hosting. Of this figure, less than half (2,196,457) were rejected by RBG Kew’s spam filter. The data, which was obtained via the Freedom of Information (FoI) act, analysed results from January 2019 up to January 2020.

It found that 63 per cent of all blocked emails (1,381,792), were rejected as the sender had an IP address registered to the Realtime Blackhole List (RBL). The RBL is a list of IP addresses known to regularly send out spam.

The statistics also revealed that an additional 91,881 emails were rejected due to a spam signature being detected; an additional 3,181 emails were rejected as they were believed to contain a virus.

Additionally, 11 emails were rejected for reasons relating to DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance). This is an authentication protocol designed to protect a user’s domain from unauthorised use. Often, this threatening activity is attributed to phishing attempts, email scams and business compromise attacks. Kew Gardens is a top London tourist attraction, with its 132 hectares of landscaped gardens attracting over 2.1 million visitors every year.

Tim Dunton, MD, Nimbus Hosting said: “It’s clear that cyber attacks via spam emails are a growing concern for organisations like Kew Gardens, which manages the personal and financial data of millions of people. All it takes is for one malicious email to fall through an email systems’ imperfect filtration system before an organisation must face the consequences of a severe breach of customer information."

Dunton continued, “The fact that more than half of threatening emails were not intercepted, in the case of Kew gardens in 2019, is hugely concerning, particularly for the millions of London citizens and international tourists who visit the botanical gardens each year. “Moving forward, Kew and indeed all major tourist attractions and organisations must ensure that they have efficient, modern cyber security protocols in place, and conduct all online operations on safe and secure IT infrastructure.”

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