MS Risk Blog

GCHQ Warns Politicians About Russian Hacking Threat

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GCHQ last month warned politicians that attacks by Russian hackers could threaten British democracy.

The Sunday Times has reported that the spy agencys computer security chief has written to political parties offering advice on preventing hacks. In the letter, Ciaran Martin, chief executive of GCHQs National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) stated, you will be aware of the coverage of events in the United States, Germany and elsewhere reminding us of the potential for hostile action against the UK political system, adding this is not just about the network security of political parties own systems. Attacks against our democratic processes go beyond this and can include attacks on parliament, constituency offices, think tanks and pressure groups and individuals email accounts. He went on to say that the GCHQ would offer tailored seminars in order to help political parties understand the threats and reduce the risk of information being stolen. The letter comes after he warned back in February that Britain had been targeted with 188 attempted high-level hacks in the previous three months, noting that many of which threatened national security. Chancellor Phillip Hammond, a former defense and foreign secretary, meanwhile has disclosed that the NCSC had been blocking more than 200 attacks a day on government departments and the public over the last six months.

This comes as United States intelligence officials have accused the Kremlin of using cyber-attacks in order to influence the November 2016 presidential election. A report by US intelligence officials concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee in a bid to influence the November election in favour of Republican candidate Donald Trump. Meanwhile Germanys domestic intelligence chief warned in December 2016 of increasingly aggressive cyber-espionage by a hacking group believed to be controlled by the Russian state. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson however has stated that so far there has been no evidence of any successful attacks in the UK. This month, Mr Johnson told ITVs Peston On Sunday that we have no evidence that the Russians are actually involved in trying to undermine our democratic processes at the moment. We dont actually have that evidenceBut what we do have is plenty of evidence that the Russians are capable of doing that. And there is no doubt that they have been up to all sorts of dirty tricks. The foreign secretary went on to say that there was very little doubt that the Kremlin was behind the hacking in the US, cyber-attacks on French TV stations and an attempted coup in Montenegro. Russia however has rejected these allegations.