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ICO Struck by 2650% Rise in Email Attacks in 2021

 

The UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) reported a whopping 2650% spike in email attacks in 2021, as per official numbers acquired by the Parliament Street think tank following a Freedom of Information request, 

Email attacks on the UK's privacy and data protection regulator increased from 150,317 in January to 4,135,075 in December, according to the findings. For each month last year, the data refers to the volume of phishing emails discovered, malware detected and prevented, and spam detected and blocked by the ICO. 

The majority of the attacks were caused by spam emails, which increased by 2775 % from January to December. During this time, the number of phishing emails climbed by 20%, while malware increased by 423 percent. 

In December, the statistics revealed a significant increase in email attacks, with 4,125,992 spam messages, 7886 phishing emails, and 1197 malware cases. This increase is likely to be linked to the Omicron variant's rapid spread in the UK at the end of the year, with threat actors able to use issues like testing and immunizations as bait. This is in addition to the Christmas scams that proliferate in the build-up to the holidays. 

Edward Blake, area vice president EMEA of Absolute Software, commented: “Cyber-attacks are targeting organizations across the globe at an alarming rate, once again reminding businesses of the need to re-evaluate and revamp their security protection if it is not up to scratch. Cybersecurity is not just about protecting endpoints via anti-malware or email cybersecurity solutions. While these are important, there are now a variety of access points for cyber-criminals to capitalize on that IT leaders need to be aware of. These include vulnerable unpatched applications and network vulnerabilities, stolen or illegally purchased log-in credentials or even by hacking unprotected smart devices.” 

Barracuda Networks' manager, Steven Peake, expressed similar concerns, saying: “The pandemic continues to be a catalyst for opportunistic cyber-criminals to try and prey on unsuspecting, vulnerable people. Our recent research showed a 521% surge in COVID-19 test-related phishing attacks, so it is hardly surprising to see major organizations, such as the ICO, hit by such a high volume of threats as they represent lucrative targets. Phishing emails, malware, and spam, in particular, account for a large proportion of the threats these organizations face, so they need to implement measures to protect themselves. These cyber-attackers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.” 

As part of its plans to reform the country's data sector, the UK government announced plans to revamp the ICO's structure last year.

AnyVan 4.1 Million Users Comprised with Data-Breach

 

Headquartered in Hammersmith, London (UK)- AnyVan is a European online platform for the patrons to access consignment, transport, and removal services from their chain network of transport partners. It focuses on European moves only. Also, it is one of the front runners of Europe in terms of moving services as it can easily compare the delivery path of the patron with that of the transport service provider and associate them to mitigate costs and eliminate CO2 emissions by optimizing storage space and haulage. However recently AnyVan affirmed its users about the unauthorized data break-in and embezzlement of personal details of its patrons by the hackers. 

The company informed its patrons by sending them a notice concerning a data breach that the company has become a victim of. AnyVan later disclosed that they discovered this incident on the 31st of December 2020 and they also mentioned the reason as to, “why they're being informed so late?” 

AnyVan in regards to the aforementioned incident stated that “This leaking of data came to our attention on the 31st December, but we understand the incident itself occurred at the end of September. As soon as the incident came to our attention, our specialist IT team investigated it and have since taken the following remedial action: all passwords have been changed."

According to the notice and statements given by the company, patrons' names, email and a cryptographic hash of their passwords have been accessed and probably displayed on the dark web by the actors. Seemingly, no other sensitive information was compromised. Further, they added that an investigation of the incident continues. however, all this came only after the actors had ample time to exploit user’s data and information. The estimate reflects that around 4.1 million users are being affected due to this data breach. AnyVan never even reached out to the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office), which was an important step as its users' confidential data was compromised.

As a precautionary measure, the company advised its patrons to update their password and other personal details for the accounts, they use on AnyVan. They alarmed them not to share unwittingly any other piece of information or personal detail to anyone. Moreover, the company apologized for this data breach of the personal information suffered by its users and said that they are very sorry for the inconvenience caused.