Scottish Parliament targeted in cyber attack

Scottish Parliamentary Building [Image: ChrisHepburn via iStock]

The Scottish Parliament has been targeted by a brute force cyber attack, similar to that which affected Westminster in June, according to officials.

Chief executive of Holyrood Sir Paul Grice informed MSPs and staff with parliamentary email addresses of the attack in a message urging them to be vigilant.

Attackers attempted to access MSPs’ email accounts by trying to crack their passwords using an automated process of trial and error. Holyrood said that no accounts had been accessed, but that MSPs had been advised to strengthen their passwords.

It was found that too many passwords were weak enough to be cracked. Mr Grice said that the number of “simple passwords” were too high for his team to contact each individual responsible.

Mr Grice informed Holyrood staff members that the “parliament’s monitoring systems have identified that we are currently the subject of a brute force cyber attack from external sources”.

He went on to say: “The parliament’s robust cyber security measures identified this attack at an early stage and the additional security measures which we have in readiness for such situations have already been invoked. Our IT systems remain fully operational.”

Mr Grice explained that the “symptoms of the attack” include victims being locked out of their accounts or being unable to login.

It is not yet known who is behind the attack on the Scottish Parliament.

The incident can serve to remind businesses of the importance of protecting themselves. If a national parliament can be hit by cyber criminals, there is nothing stopping them attacking a company.

Businesses need to ensure they have the best managed IT security systems in place in order to prevent malicious hacks and viruses intended to disrupt or steal information.