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Cyber attack surface widened by new ways of working, says Coalition

6th March 2023 - Author: Kane Wells

London decoy computers were attacked 91 million times in January, of which 77 million were attempts to hack into remote desktop connections used by employees working out of office, according to new data from cyber insurer Coalition.

Computers specially configured to make cyber criminals think they were small businesses operating in London, aptly named “honeypots” in the cyber security industry, were operated by Coalition as part of an exercise to assess the volume of cyber attacks directed against the UK’s capital.

Data from the honeypots showed that over 28 days in January, the devices were attacked 91 million times by over 101,000 different hackers.

This equates to attacks occurring over 2,000 times every minute.

Coalition notes that Russia was the single largest source of attacks, followed by Bulgaria, Monaco and Panama.

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It also pointed out that many cyber criminals hide their location by mounting attacks using virtual private networks (VPNs) routed through other countries.

Dr Simon Bell, Coalition’s UK security researcher, commented, “These results show just how much home working has widened businesses’ attack surface – the number of internet connections and vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. 85% of attacks we saw were attempts to gain unauthorised access to these remote connections.

”We use honeypots to learn about threat actors and their methods. It’s a little like using a decoy car to attract car thieves. Once the attack happens, we can see what vulnerabilities the cybercriminal is looking for and how they try to exploit them.

“In this exercise, our honeypots were given IP addresses that identified as physical data centres in London.”

The data was supplied by Coalition to the Cyber Resilience Centre for London, a police-led, not-for-profit organisation working in partnership with the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime.

Simon Newman, CEO of the Cyber Resilience Centre for London, said, “The data supplied by Coalition is incredibly valuable to us as we get real-time insights into the threat landscape of the City, and the latest trends and techniques being deployed by cybercriminals.

“This allows us to tailor up-to-date guidance for our membership base of SMEs, which make up 99.8% of businesses across the capital.

“It also helps to illustrate the scale of the threat facing the business community, which in turn supports access to funding and partnerships that allows us to continue our important work.”

Coalition launched in the UK in September last year, and offers active cyber insurance: a combination of state-of-the-art cyber security protection combined with cyber insurance.

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