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Millions of cyber attacks on Kew Gardens and museums as hackers target people's financial data

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Four of London’s major tourist attractions have been hit with millions of cyber attacks as people’s financial data is targeted, it was revealed today.

Figures show the Natural History Museum, the Imperial War Museum, Kew Gardens and Tate recorded tens of millions of attacks in the past three years. Only a handful succeeded and none are thought to have resulted in membership details being stolen.

Experts said the hackers were targeting organisations holding large amounts of personal financial data. 

The figures, compiled using Freedom of Information laws by the Parliament Street think tank, show 86 million security incidents at Kew last year. The figure included a big rise in attacks classified as spyware, up from 13.1 million in 2016-17 to 82.1 million in 2017-18. 

The Imperial War Museum recorded the second highest number — more than 10 million over three years.

The Tate cited 494,709 incidents last year. About 10,000 were said to be malware attacks but the majority were classified as spam emails. Tim Dunton, of IT company Nimbus Hosting, said the high volume of attacks showed cyber criminals were going to “extreme lengths to obtain confidential information”.

Charlie McMurdie, ex-head of the Met cyber crime unit, said: “It is good to see these organisations known for good physical security measures also have cyber security measures in place which are preventing and detecting attacks.” She added that hackers use automated “bots” to carry out millions of attacks. Crime gangs then trade the data. 

A Kew spokesman said: “We have observed a very significant increase in the number of cyber hack attempts … We can confirm these attempts were successfully blocked by our firewalls and perimeter defences … Security remains one of our primary concerns.”

An IWM spokeswoman said it takes cyber-security “extremely seriously”, adding: “We are satisfied our operations and data are well protected.”

Ian Golding, of the NHM, said: “Ensuring we have the best cyber protection is of paramount importance as we continue to protect, display and digitise our collection.”

The Tate declined to comment. 

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