UK Sport targeted by nearly a quarter of a million cyberattacks in the past 12 months

UK Sport, the government agency responsible for investing in Olympic and Paralympic sport in the United Kingdom, has been hit by almost a quarter of a million cyberattacks during the past year, according to official figures.

This comes at a time of heightened sensitivity amidst threats of Russian cyberattacks on the UK. Previously, there was suspected Russian involvement in a series of hacked documents against British athlete Mo Farah.

The data was acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) and analysed by the Parliament Street think tank, revealing the number of email threats blocked by UK Sport over the past year, from February 2021 to January 2022.

UK Sport rejected a total of 246,724 malicious emails during the reporting period with a noticeable increase in the latter half of 2021.

During the first half of the period, 105,920 attacks were blocked by UK Sport, rising to 140,804 during the second half of the period, an increase of 33%.

October saw the most email threats blocked with 27,625, followed by December with 25,511. Whilst the month with the fewest attacks was February 2021 with 13,475.

The threats included, but were not limited to, suspicious links, suspicious attachments, solicitation, spoofing, malware, viruses and spam.

Chris Ross, SVP Sales International for Barracuda Networks, comments: “With the volume of cyberattacks extremely high over the past few months, it is more important for large organisations like UK Sport to ensure they have proper cyber security defences in place.

“Our own research revealed that 20% of organisations had an account compromised in 2021, highlighting just how important it is to protect IT systems as malicious actors are using every possible opportunity to try and take advantage of unsuspecting staff, using sophisticated spear-phishing attacks to trick them into sharing sensitive data and information.

“UK Sport, and other large organisations should deploy cyber security training to staff to raise awareness of threats, helping them to identify and report suspicious activity. Whilst utilising artificial intelligence solutions can help to prevent and filter suspected malicious threats before they get an opportunity to result in a large data leak.”