Spam/malicious emails

FOI request reference: F0063498
Publication date: November 2020

I would like to know the following under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) please.
Total number of spam/malicious emails blocked by your organisation over the last 9 months January 2020 – September 2020. Please break the data down per month.
Please could you also provide a category for the malicious emails? e.g. 2,300 phishing emails, 3,000 ransomware attempts, 5,000 spam/junk emails, 3,400 anti-virus blocks, 2,000 malware
Some information provided.
The total number of emails blocked by The National Archives’ filtering system in January to September 2020 is as follows:

Date Number of emails blocked
Jan 2020 11,198
Feb 2020 14,555
Mar 2020 82,750
Apr 2020 26,805
May 2020 40,184
Jun 2020 22, 516
Jul 2020 10,911
Aug 2020 10, 434
Sep 2020 10,772
Total 230,125

Information regarding specific categories is exempt under section 31 (1) (a) of the FOI Act. For further information about why this exemption has been applied, please see the explanatory Annex at the end of this letter.
Exemptions applied.

Section 31: Law Enforcement
We are unable to provide you with information regarding software brands and specific contract start/end dates because this information is exempt from disclosure under section 31 (1) (a) of the FOI Act. Section 31 (1) (a) exempts information if its disclosure is likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.

Section 31 is a qualified exemption and we are required to conduct a public interest test when applying any qualified exemption. This means that after it has been decided that the exemption is engaged, the public interest in releasing the information must be considered. If the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in withholding it then the exemption does not apply and the information must be released. In the FOI Act there is a presumption that information should be released unless there are compelling reasons to withhold it.

The public interest has now been concluded and the balance of the public interest has been found to fall in favour of withholding information covered by the section 31 (1) (a) exemption. Considerations in favour of the release of the information included the principle that there is a public interest in transparency and accountability in disclosing information about government procedure and contracts. However, release of this information would make The National Archives more vulnerable to crime. The crime in question here would be a malicious attack on The National Archives’ computer systems. As such release of this information would be seen to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime by making The National Archives’ computer system more vulnerable to hacking. There is an overwhelming public interest in keeping government computer systems secure which would be served by non-disclosure. This would outweigh any benefits of release. It has therefore been decided that the balance of the public interest lies clearly in favour of withholding the material on this occasion.

Further guidance on section 31 can be found here: