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UK Anti-Doping agency hit with thousands of malicious email attacks

(Image credit: Shutterstock.com / Dmitry Kalinovsky)

The UK’s Anti-Doping agency was bombarded with thousands of attempts to cripple its systems via email attack in 2019, new research has claimed.

According to research from Parliament Street think tank, the body was hit with a total of 11,148 malicious emails in the final three months of last year.

The data, collected via a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by Parliament Street, found that the organisation reported a total of 2,312 phishing emails in the affected period.

Fancy Bear attacks

Over the three months in question, November 2019 saw the highest number of attacks, with 4,244 spam and malicious emails blocked, followed by 3,686 in December and 3,218 over the period from 10th October 2019 to 31 October 2019.

It is understood that none of the attacks were successful, but the risk posed by such attacks is very real, as seen in 2016, when cyber hacking group “Fancy Bears” hacked into the World Ant-Doping Agency (WADA) and released confidential athlete data

The data included information relating to a number of high- profile sportspeople, including Mo Farah and Rafael Nadal.

“These figures are a reminder of the cyber security hurdles faced by athletics and sports organisations tasked with managing confidential data of high-profile individuals," Andy Harcup, VP, Absolute Software said.

"Many of these agencies require staff members to travel regularly, meaning mobile devices like laptops and tablets are a top target for hackers and opportunistic thieves." 

"Addressing this problem requires all organisations to embrace a resilience-first approach to cyber security. This means making critical apps self-healing and gathering insights to remedy end-point vulnerabilities, so that hackers are kept locked out. Additionally, having the ability to track, freeze and wipe lost devices will guarantee that lost or stolen devices containing highly confidential data is protected at all times, in all circumstances.”