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Cyber attacks

This Freedom of Information request asks for details of successful cyber attacks.

Ref. No. FOI18829 - Request For Information -


Thank you for your email of 11 May 2018, requesting information from Ordnance Survey in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000, as set out below:-

I would like some information on attempted cyber attacks upon your organisation over the last three financial years. Please could you list the total number of recorded attacks, broken down by year and by type of attack e.g. malware, denial-of-service, phishing etc.
e.g. FY 17-18 1,000 malware, 500 phishing, 500 Denial-of-service.
Please detail whether any of these attacks were successfully blocked.

Our response

I can confirm Ordnance Survey holds the information however, from our preliminary assessment, it is clear that we will not be able to answer your request. Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 makes provision for public authorities to refuse requests for information where the cost of dealing with them would exceed the appropriate limit, which for Ordnance Survey is set at £450 (18 hours).

To provide you with the information you have requested would require a search of all IT incidents recorded on our IS Service Desk system for the last three years. Our preliminary analysis demonstrates that the results obtained from an initial keyword search would return a significant number of false positives, meaning that a large number of records would need to be reviewed and assessed manually to determine whether each one related to a cyber attack. As such, we estimate that it will take us in excess of the applicable time limit to locate, retrieve and extract the information in reference to your request, for the requested time period. Therefore, your request will not be processed further.

You may wish to refine your request by narrowing its scope, for example, by asking for the information for a shorter period of time.

However, under the duty to provide information and assistance in accordance with section 16 of FOIA, we can provide the following information which may assist you in this matter.

Ordnance Survey received a similar request for information under reference FOI17776. I am pleased to be able to provide you with the details of cyber attacks in response to FOI17776, in which we provided details of cyber-attacks between March 2016 to April 2017, in particular the number of cyber attacks, and the type of attacks is provided for this time period.

In addition to the above, your request asks us to ‘please detail whether any of these attacks successful of blocked’.   It would be useful if you could provide an explanation or definition to clarify this part of your request, in particular, if you mean cyber-attacks successfully blocked or cyber-attacks successful in getting through our infrastructure.  The reason we ask for clarification is to ensure that we understand exactly what information you require. This will enable us to provide an appropriate and accurate response to your request, should you wish to narrow the scope and re-submit your request.

Internal review

Your enquiry has been processed according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000. If you are unhappy with our response, you may request an internal review with our Internal Review Officer by contacting them, within two months of receipt of our final response to your Freedom of Information (FOI) request , as follows:

Internal Review Officer
Customer Service Centre
Ordnance Survey
Adanac Drive
SO16 0AS

Contact us via our FoI form

Please include the reference number above. You may request an internal review where you believe Ordnance Survey has:

•    Failed to respond to your request within the time limits (normally 20 working days)
•    Failed to tell you whether or not we hold the information
•    Failed to provide the information you have requested
•    Failed to explain the reasons for refusing a request
•    Failed to correctly apply an exemption or exception

The Internal Review Officer will not have been involved in the original decision. They will conduct an independent internal review and will inform you of the outcome of the review normally within 20 working days, but exceptionally within 40 working days, in line with the Information Commissioner’s guidance.

The Internal Review Officer will either: uphold the original decision, provide an additional explanation of the exemption/s applied or release further information, if it is considered appropriate to do so.

Appeal to Information Commissioner›s Office (ICO)

If, following the outcome of the internal review you remain unhappy with our response, you may raise an appeal, within three months of receiving our response, with the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Further information can be found on the ICO website ( under ‘Report a concern’ or you may wish to call the ICO helpline on 0303 123 1113.