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The National Portrait Gallery was targeted by 347,602 emails containing spam, phishing and malware attacks in the final quarter of 2019, according to Freedom of Information Act data obtained by think tank Parliament Street.

The National Portrait Gallery is one of London’s most prestigious art galleries, welcoming between 1.1-2 million visitors every year, many of which have private information such as payment details and email addresses stored on its servers. The research highlights the threats posed to the capital’s museums by malicious hackers who seek to steal membership data from popular tourist attractions.

Of the 347,602 blocked emails, 56% were identified as directory harvest attacks, whilst 61,710 emails were blocked as the sender belonged to a ‘threat intelligence blacklist.’ A further 85,793 emails were intercepted as they were believed, or confirmed, to have contained spam content and 418 emails were listed as being blocked for containing viruses.

Andy Heather, VP at Centrify, said: “These figures paint a worrying picture of the volume of malicious email attacks designed to trick unsuspecting staffers into handing over confidential data such as passwords and log-in credentials. The National Portrait Gallery is an incredibly popular destination for tourists, attracting millions of visitors and members every year, which unfortunately makes it a top target for hackers and cyber-criminals seeking to use legitimate, often stolen, credentials to gain access fear of detection.”

Addressing this threat means ensuring a zero trust approach to employee communication, Heather added, ensuring suspicious emails are spotted and full checks are made so that managers can be sure all staffers are who they say they are.

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