Email accounts of MPs, peers, and staff were compromised during the cyber-attack.
In what is already being blamed as a “state sponsored” attack, Britain’s Parliament shut down all access to its email system over the weekend following signs that someone had gained unauthorized access to the system. This event last Friday occurred only days after reports that Russian hackers were selling the account logins for a thousand top Parliamentary officials and staff members, about seven thousand police department officials, and around 1,000 Foreign Office officials.
Small, but significant
While only an estimated 90 accounts are believed to have been compromised, that’s far too many for the security officials overseeing the system. Some MPs are also highly concerned about the possibility of blackmail, as the accounts are used to communicate between members of Parliament and their staff, between opposing parties for official business, and between MPs and their constituents.
As a result of the suspected infiltration, the entire email network was shut down and all account holders urged to change their passwords, something that all email users should do from time to time just as a matter of course. The method of attack in this event, a “brute force attack,” is designed to hurl billions of password attempts per second at the system in order to land on one combination that affords them access.
Russia and North Korea are already being indicated as possible sources of the government-sanctioned hacking, although in this current climate of international turmoil and mistrust, it’s anybody’s guess as to who may be to blame. One MP’s tongue-in-cheek tweet about the whole matter summed up the frustration nicely:
“Sorry no parliamentary email access today – we’re under cyber attack from Kim Jong Un, (Vladimir) Putin or a kid in his mom’s basement or something…” — Tory MP Henry Smith
No other sensitive information or systems are currently believed to have been affected in this event, but security officials will continue investigating for now.
Protect your system – download the latest security and anti-malware software now – here on FileHippo.