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New phishing attacks are preying on UK citizens' Brexit fears

Following the EU Referendum, cybercriminals have begun to prey on the fears of British people by tricking them into downloading malicious software onto their devices.

Security researchers have found a new phishing attack that exploits Britons growing fears about the economy and the political landscape after June's controversial vote over Brexit. The attack is disguised as an email with a subject line either about political uncertainty or economic turmoil. For example “Brexit causes historic market drop”.

When users, many of which are afraid about these two issues in particular, open the email, malicious software is downloaded onto either their computers or mobile devices. The software then steals personal and financial information while spying on the users who were tricked into installing it.

The co-founder of London-based cybersecurity company Digital Shadows, James Chappell, noted an up-tick in the amount of attacks after the referendum, saying: “We have certainly noticed an increase in the use of Brexit-related topics in email to encourage users to click on content since last Friday's referendum. A common ploy being used by cybercriminals is to send emails that references 'Brexit causes historic market drop' designed to create urgency in the recipient to click a link or open an attachment as a means of delivering malware.”

Chappell however is encouraging all users to be extra cautious with any email they see in their inbox that mentions Brexit. He also suggests deleting these emails right away as an added security measure as they will be less effective at infecting your devices if there is no email or attachment to click on.

It is somewhat difficult for hackers to immediately know which way a user voted in regard to Brexit, by searching social media posts for information about their political leanings, they could design attacks that voters would be more vulnerable to as they would be tailored to their political beliefs.

Image Credit: wk1003mike / Shutterstock

After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.