The National Cyber Security Center confirms that members of United Kingdom's parliament have been targets of a determined cyber-attack.
According to the center, which detected the unusual activity in the system on the evening of June 23, hackers carried out a sustained attack with the intent of identifying accounts with weak passwords. To prevent further damage, parliament members and staff would temporarily only be able to access their emails in Westminster.
Cyber-Attack On The Parliament
It is unclear whether the recent cyber-attack is connected with reports that login credentials of parliament members, staff, and police were being sold and traded online in Russian websites.
"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. As a precaution, we have temporarily restricted remote access to the network," Parliament authorities informed affected users.
What is clear, however, is that the attack specifically targeted email accounts so security measures have been set-up to ensure accounts are unavailable remotely. Of course, that means urgent messages may not be able to get through the system but upper House of Lords representative Chris Rennard has a solution for such cases.
— Chris Rennard (@LordRennard) June 24, 2017
U.K. officials and security experts were not at all surprised that the parliament was targeted by hackers this time around. Even international trade minister Liam Fox expressed that the attack was to be expected, considering all the news reports and previous attacks the country experienced.
"We know that our public services are attacked so it's not at all surprising that there should be an attempt to hack into parliamentary emails," Minister Fox said.
The House of Commons released a statement with regard to the incident and promised to keep everyone updated on the case.
Statement regarding cyber incident. pic.twitter.com/fAbDkAfdbj — Commons Press Office (@HoCPress) June 24, 2017
Not The First Attack
The United Kingdom has had its fair share of cyber-attacks. Just this May, cyber-attacks victimized 70 countries and held U.K. hospital systems at ransom for up to $600 in bitcoins. The attack on U.K. health services forced some hospitals to turn away patients unless it was an emergency.
In October 2016, the United Kingdom also suffered from a massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that affected internet services run by Dyn.