MPs’ emails tar­geted by hack­ers in cy­ber at­tack

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - News - By John Paul Bres­lin jbres­lin@sun­day­post.com

THE UK Par­lia­ment has been hit by a cy­ber se­cu­rity at­tack.

MPs and peers were left un­able to re­motely ac­cess their emails as a re­sult of the in­ci­dent.

Last night, a House of Com­mons spokes­woman said: “Unau­tho­rised at­tempts to ac­cess par­lia­men­tary user ac­counts have been dis­cov­ered.

“We are con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­ti­gate this in­ci­dent and take fur­ther mea­sures to se­cure the com­puter net­work, li­ais­ing with the Na­tional Cy­ber Se­cu­rity Cen­tre.

“We have sys­tems in place to pro­tect mem­ber and staff ac­counts and are tak­ing the nec­es­sary steps to pro­tect our sys­tems.”

The spokes­woman said that the MPs were un­able to ac­cess their emails due to pro­tec­tion mea­sures, rather than as a di­rect re­sult of the at­tack.

She said :“Par­lia­ment has dis­abled re­mote ac­cess to pro­tect the net­work.”

A num­ber of politi­cians con­firmed they had not been able to ac­cess their email.

Lib­eral Demo­crat peer Baron Ren­nard tweeted: “Cy­ber se­cu­rity at­tack on West­min­ster, Par­lia­men­tary emails may not work re­motely.”

Dud­ley MP Ian Austin con­firmed he was hav­ing the same is­sue just mo­ments af­ter Lord Ren­nard’s tweet.

His mes­sage stated there was “some­thing wrong with Par­lia­men­tary emails”.

An email sent by par­lia­men­tary au­thor­i­ties to those af­fected by the in­ci­dent re­port­edly de­scribed the at­tack as “de­ter­mined”.

The email stated: “Ear­lier this morn­ing we dis­cov­ered un­usual ac­tiv­ity and ev­i­dence of an at­tempted cy­ber- at­tack on our com­puter net­work.

“Closer in­ves­ti­ga­tion by our team con­firmed 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 our emails.

“We have been work­ing closely with the Na­tional Cy­ber Se­cu­rity Cen­tre to iden­tify the method of the at­tack and have made changes to pre­vent the at­tack­ers gain­ing ac­cess.

“How­ever, our in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues.”

The in­ci­dent comes just over a month since 48 of Eng­land’s NHS Trusts were hit by a cy­ber-at­tack.

It fol­lowed re­ports that pass­words for MPs and of­fi­cials were be­ing sold on­line by hack­ers.

The Gov­ern­ment’s Na­tional Se­cu­rity Strat­egy ad­mit­ted in 2015 that the threat of cy­ber- at­tacks from both or­gan­ised crime and for­eign in­tel­li­gence agen­cies was one of the “most sig­nif­i­cant risks to UK in­ter­ests”.

The Na­tional Cy­ber Se­cu­rity Cen­tre, which is part of in­tel­li­gence agency GCHQ, started its op­er­a­tions in Oc­to­ber last year.

The Na­tional Crime Agency said it was work­ing with the NCSC but the cen­tre was “lead­ing the op­er­a­tional re­sponse”.

Dud­ley MP Ian Austin.

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