BBC receives over 250,000 email attacks every day

  • The BBC receives over a quarter of a million malicious email attacks every day, according to the Parliament Street think tank’s cybersecurity team.

    The data revealed that an average of 283,597 malicious emails were blocked by the organisation every day over the first eight months of 2020.

    On a monthly basis, this shows that the BBC receives an average of 6,704,188 hostile emails classed as scam or spam.

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    An average of 18,662 malware attacks such as viruses, ransomware and spyware are also blocked.

    Across the eight-month period of January 2020 to August 2020, a total of 51,898,393 infected emails were blocked by BBC systems.

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    The highest month of attacks was July with a huge total of 6,801,227 incidents recorded. Of these 6,787,635 were spam and 13,592 were malware.

    The second highest month was March, when the UK first went into lockdown due to Covid-19. The BBC received 6,768,632 spam attempts and 14,089 malware attempts, totalling 6,782,721.

    In 2013 the BBC Twitter feed was subject to a phishing hack, by what appeared to be sympathisers of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    The BBC said the "phishing" emails contained what appeared to be links to The Guardian newspaper or Human Rights Watch online and bring users to a fake webmail portal.

    In 2016 there was another hack, with an anti-Isis hacking group who claimed responsibility for downing BBC websites and services on New Year’s Eve.

    There was another attack in December 2015, when all BBC websites were unavailable because of a large web attack.

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    It is believed that a web attack technique known as a "distributed denial of service" was causing the patchy response. This aims to knock a site offline by swamping it with more traffic than it can handle.

    Tim Sadler, CEO of cybersecurity vendor Tessian said: "The global pandemic has become a ripe opportunity for hackers' phishing scams, and we can clearly see that in reflected in the spike of malicious attacks on the BBC.

    “In the wake of the outbreak, journalists and employees would have been busier and more distracted than usual. Using clever social engineering techniques, cybercriminals prey on people's desire for information during uncertain times, and bank on the fact that busy, distracted and stressed employees may miss the signs of a phishing email and fall for their scams.

    “Organisations, therefore, must have security measures in place to automatically predict such email threats and warn people before they click or download an attachment."

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    Source: Written from press release

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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