Brexit sparks surge of enterprise spam

Sources report market insecurity driving wave of phishing emails

Britain's EU referendum result has triggered a massive surge in Brexit-based phishing emails, security firms have revealed.

Following the vote to leave the European Union, cyber security company Symantec reported an increase of almost 400 per cent in the number of spam emails featuring 'Brexit' in the subject line.

The volume of emails blocked by the company rose from 81,323 between 9 and 23 June, when the polls closed, to just under 400,000 between 24 June and 5 July.

Independent sources in the IT industry have independently confirmed the trend, telling IT Pro that enterprises are also being targeted, with a significant number of employees receiving and opening the malicious emails.

The emails - which reportedly contain the subject lines such as "Brexit causes historic market drop" - are a textbook example of social engineering, Symantec Security Response's Peter Coogan said.

"Scammers and spammers are constantly devising new e-mails and weaving current events to play on emotions, and the marked increase in Brexit-related spam does not come as a surprise considering the high international attention it is receiving."

Phishing emails commonly use psychological tactics in order to get people to open them. They are often labeled as classified corporate secrets, for example and scammers have also been known to use major events like the Olympic Games in their emails.

"Threats such as spam, phishing, and malware that surf on major current events to try to scam people out of money continue to be a lucrative method used by cybercriminals to entice consumers and organisations to share sensitive or financial information," Coogan said.

"If you don't know the sender," he advised, "don't open the e-mail, don't click on the links within them and don't open the attachments."

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