UK political parties warned of Russian hacking threat

Attacks against democratic processes go beyond political parties, says NCSC Head Ciaran Martin


March 12, 2017
PHOTO: AFP

LONDON: A British intelligence agency has told political parties to protect themselves against potential cyber attacks, citing allegations that Russian hackers tried to influence last year's US presidential election.

Britain's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) intelligence agency, said it had written to the leaders of political parties offering to help strengthen their network security, confirming a report in a local newspaper.

"You will be aware of the coverage of events in the US, Germany and elsewhere remind us of the potential for
hostile action against the UK political system," a letter from
NCSC head Ciaran Martin said.

"Attacks against our democratic processes go beyond [political parties] and can include attacks on parliament, constituency offices think tanks and pressure groups and individuals' email accounts," it said.

The NCSC said it had written to parties on the matter, although it did not confirm that the main cyber security risk was Russia.

Asked about the report, foreign minister Boris Johnson said that "We have no evidence that the Russians are actually involved in trying to undermine our democratic processes at the moment,'' Johnson added.

Trump knowledge of Russian election hack could lead to impeachment, says Watergate lawyer

"But what we do have is plenty of evidence that the Russians are capable of doing that. And there is no doubt that they've been up to all sorts of dirty tricks," he said.

US intelligence agencies concluded last year that Russia hacked and leaked democratic party emails as part of an effort to tilt the presidential election vote in favour of Donald Trump, which Russia categorically denies.

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