The UK Parliament has been hit by a cyber attack, with up to 90 email accounts being hacked.
It is alleged that the Russian government is the most likely perpetrator of the attack, which began on Friday (June 23rd) evening. Officials responded by disabling remote email access for MPs, peers and their staff.
There are fears that the MPs targeted could now be blackmailed.
According to a Parliamentary spokesperson, the “determined attack” was the result of “weak passwords”. An investigation is currently ongoing to establish whether any data has been lost, with officials liaising with the National Cyber Security Centre.
The spokesperson said: “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.”
According to the Guardian, a security source said that it was a brute force attack, which appears to be state-sponsored. It is also thought that North Korea, China or Iran might be behind the attack.
There have been reports that passwords for email addresses belonging to Cabinet members and MPs were being sold online, something that international trade secretary Liam Fox has backed up.
He said: “We know that our public services are attacked so it is not at all surprising that there should be an attempt to hack into parliamentary emails. And it's a warning to everybody, whether they are in Parliament or elsewhere, that they need to do everything possible to maintain their own cybersecurity.”
It follows a worldwide cyberattack, which targeted the NHS, in May. It has also prompted businesses to start evaluating their own security measures since an attack on the government shows that anyone is vulnerable.
Security experts are advising that passwords should be changed regularly, while companies should invest in robust security systems to ensure they are protected from any potential cyberattacks on them.