Editorial

After the NHS, Westminster’s the next hacker target

“On-going incident” has the full attention of House of Parliament’s IT team fully occupied, while experts from the National Cybersecurity Centre were also pulled into help over the weekend

Posted 26 June 2017 by

MPs are the latest public sector hacker attack target after the NHS, it seems, after Parliament’s email system and the accounts of Ministers, Lords, aides and other staff were subject to a sustained and determined probe that started on Friday night.

It looks like the hack was an attempt to  identify weak passwords, and press reports suggest around 1% of accounts – around 90 – were in fact compromised.

In response, the House’s IT team have locked down external access, which means some Members of Parliament and staff cannot access their email accounts outside of Westminster.

Cybersecurity experts from the National Cyber Security Centre has been called in to help, with suspects including foreign espionage or state-supported actors. Some newspapers are specifically calling out Russia.

On its website, the team says it has discovered unauthorised attempts to access accounts of its networks and it’s investigating what it says is a still on-going incident.

However, it adds, “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.”

IT services on the Parliamentary Estate are working normally, adds the statement, and Members of both Houses of Parliament and the public will be “updated as the situation develops”.