BBC hit with over 250,000 phishing emails every day

Person checking email inbox while sitting at a desk
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The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) receives over a quarter of a million malicious email attacks every day, according to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Parliament Street think tank’s cyber security team.

The BBC blocked an average of 283,597 scam or spam emails a day over the first eight months of 2020, reporting an average of 6,704,188 malicious emails per month. Between January and August 2020, BBC systems managed to block a total of 51,898,393 infected emails.

Additionally, the think tank also found that the BBC blocks an average of 18,662 malware attacks a month.

According to the data received under the FOI, the month of July had the highest number of attacks, with a total of 6,801,227 incidents recorded. These included 6,787,635 spam emails and incidents of malware.

The second highest month was March, during which the BBC was met with 6,768,632 spam attempts and 14,089 malware attempts - a total of 6,782,721 incidents.

According to the CEO of security software provider Tessian, the large instance of attacks during the month which also registered the steepest rise in COVID-19 cases is not accidental.

"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,” said Tessian CEO Tim Sadler.

“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.


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

The BBC had been hit with a number of large-scale cyber attacks in the past. The broadcaster had notably endured a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in 2016, 2012, and 2008.

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.