UK Parliament Hit By Cyber Attack Targeting Email Accounts

Media Division | June 26, 2017

With a large part of our important communications and business operations now being relayed through email, these systems tend to be frequently targeted by cyber attacks. Certain email accounts within organizations can hold large amounts of confidential, personal, and sensitive information, which can all be extremely valuable for cyber attackers.  Through the use of different methods, cyber criminals work to breach these accounts and access the treasure trove within. In a recent case of email hacking, the UK Parliament was hit by cyber attackers that were targeting accounts with weak passwords.

What Was Affected in the Attack?

The incident is being called a “sustained” cyber attack and was said to be a brutal assault upon the email accounts. According to reports, the attack appears to have been state-sponsored, and suspicions are being directed toward Russia, though there does not seem to be any reports of definitive evidence. There are other nations that are being suspected as well, including North Korea. Out of the 9,000 accounts that reside on the parliamentary network, only about 90 accounts were believed to have been hacked, according to a spokesperson. The spokesperson had also said that the accounts that were hacked had employed weak passwords that had not adhered to the Parliamentary Digital Service guidance. There is currently an investigation underway, and they are working to determine if any data was actually lost in the attack. In response to the incident, officials had been forced the lock MP’s out of their accounts to try and mitigate the damage. The lock out was due to the digital services team making changes in attempts to block the hackers. There have been concerns that any information potentially obtained from the accounts may be used for the purpose of blackmail.

Reports stated that parliament has been working with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), who have apparently been leading the operational response. The NCSC said in a statement, “The NCSC is aware of the incident and is working around the clock with the UK parliamentary digital security team to understand what has happened and advise on the necessary mitigating actions.”

Of course, this is not the only time that the finger has been pointed at Russia in regard to a cyber attack. They were also suspected in the recent hacking of French president Emmanuel Macron, who was campaigning at the time of the attack. And there was also the hacking of the Democratic National Convention in the 2016 US presidential election, in which links to Russia were discovered in the investigation.

Employing the Necessary Tools to Prevent Cyber Attacks

Proper passwords are one of the most basic forms of security that need to be in place. Many people and organizations tend to neglect how important it is to ensure that passwords are secure enough. In some cases, a complex password could be all that is required to prevent cyber attacks. Of course, there are also attackers that are able to breach through other methods, which is where comprehensive security tools and implements are necessary. There is a wide variety of tools that organizations can employ to ensure protection, such as intelligence, monitoring, and the basics of antivirus and firewalls. Far too many organizations continue to rely only on the basis, and some are even lacking in this area, which of course leads to more breaches. Massive Alliance can help organizations to bolster themselves by offering an arsenal of security tools and services to prevent cyber attacks.

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