Open University targeted with 1.2m email attacks

The Open University has been bombarded by 1,191,312 malicious email and spam attacks over the past nine months, but says it has managed to defend itself against the lot.

The scale of the attacks is reported through official data obtained by the Parliament Street think tank via a Freedom of Information request.

The data covers the period from January to September 2020, and shows that all the malicious messages - which included spam, malware and phishing attacks - were blocked by the University’s servers.

In its response to Parliament Street researchers, The Open University revealed the malicious email was divided equally over the course of the examined nine-month period, with 132,368 email attacks and spam messages blocked each month.

The data revealed that 6,804 messages were blocked due to suspicion of malware and 16,452 phishing emails were detected and blocked, which means the majority of the unwanted messages were spam.

Chris Ross, senior vice president of international sales at security vendor Barracuda Networks, said: “The nature of the Open University, and the fact that a majority of its courses take place online, means cyber attackers will inevitably attempt to target the abundance of data stored on its servers, hence the significant quantity of scam attacks facing the institution.

“Our recent research revealed that spear-phishing attacks [targeted phishing aimed at specific individuals or business units] are disproportionately targeting educational institutions across the world.”

Parliament Street liaises with lawyers, politicians and industry experts to identify security risks posed to UK businesses.

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