CyberCrimeSecurity

UK Parliament Hit By Cyber Attack Targeting Email Accounts

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

Experts have suggested that a foreign government could be responsible

The British Parliament has been hit by a cyber attack which has reportedly been targeting MP’s email accounts and causing havoc with government communications.

Authorities responded by advising the 9,000 MPs who use the network to change their passwords and preventing all remote access to email accounts from outside the Palace of Westminster.

Unusual activity was first discovered on Friday and continued into the weekend, with the incident coming hot on the heels of reports that Russian hackers had stolen and were trading passwords and email addresses of thousands of government officials.

Evil parliament (c) pisaphotography, Shutterstock 2014

Government targets

In an email on Friday, which was seen by The Telegraph, authorities confirmed to MPs that “hackers were carrying out a sustained and determined attack on all parliamentary user accounts in an attempt to identify weak passwords. These attempts specifically were trying to gain access to users emails.”

It is not yet clear how successful the attack has been in terms of whether the hackers were able to access any sensitive or confidential information, but the concern is that Members of Parliament could be left open to extortion.

Experts have also warned about the potentially heightened risks of terrorist attacks, following on from incidents in Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge over the last couple of months.

The House of Commons press office issued a statement on Friday saying: “We have discovered unauthorised attempts to access accounts of parliamentary network users and are investigating this ongoing incident, working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre.

“Parliament has robust measures in place to protect all of our accounts and systems and we are taking the necessary steps to protect and secure our network.”

The attack comes just weeks after multiple NHS Trusts were impacted by the WannaCry ransomware attack.

The blame has been firmly placed at the doors of North Korean hackers at a time when foreign government-sponsored activities such as nation state hacking and espionage are continuing to increase in prevalence.

Silicon stated that WannaCry needed to be a wake-up call for government IT and, with GCHQ warning that the integrity of our elections are at risk, it’s clear the UK government has got a serious talk on its hands.

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