UK Parliament investigates cyber attack on user accounts


A 2016 report into cyber security in Westminster raised serious questions about IT security and highlighted a lack of "transparency and accountability", while recommending a shake-up in the coordination of parliamentary security.

"As they are identified, the individuals whose accounts have been compromised have been contacted and investigations to determine whether any data has been lost are under way", the parliamentary spokesperson said.

"This has been achieved and both houses will meet as planned today". Officials have suggested that full, remote access to email should resume shortly. A security source said the attack had been "contained", but a senior Whitehall official said it was "inevitable" some information would have been stolen.

The parliamentary spokesperson said the accounts which have been compromised did not conform to guidance issued by the Parliamentary Digital Service regarding password strength.

"IT services on the parliamentary estate are working normally".

MPs and peers have been warned they may receive blackmail threats after hackers attacked the parliamentary computer system. As a result, private communications with constituents could have been compromised.

The Houses of Parliament are bathed in the early morning sunshine on May 13, 2010, in London, England. Simple security measures like multifactor authentication - requiring confirmation by app or text message before logging in - would make it much harder for hackers to gain access to email accounts.

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The attack has been described as a "sustained and determined cyber attack", which was first picked up on Friday and affected "fewer than one per cent of the 9,000 users of the IT system", according to Chris Rennard, a member of the Liberal Democrat party.

The attack was confirmed by Parliament later on Saturday. "It appears to have been state-sponsored", one source tells the Guardian.

Indeed, no such evidence as to the identity of the attacker has come to light.

Cybersecurity experts said the attack was a wake-up call.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the attack should act as "warning to everyone we need more security and better passwords", adding: "You wouldn't leave your door open at night".

"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".

It is believed that the affected network is used by all members of the parliament, including the Prime Minister Theresa May and all cabinet ministers.