Russian hackers launched cyber attack on UK MPs in an attempt to derail democracy

Russian hackers launched cyber attack on UK MPs in an attempt to derail democracy

The British government has condemned Russian state hackers for carrying out a prolonged cyber attack on Members of Parliament (MPs) in order to undermine democracy. The Russian ambassador to Britain was summoned for a reprimand, and two individuals believed to be involved in the attack have been sanctioned. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has attributed the attacks to Putin's FSB spy service, which has been commanding the attacks since at least 2015. The hackers, known as Star Blizzard, targeted sensitive documents, including trade papers, which were later used by former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to claim that the NHS was "up for sale" in negotiations with the US.

Targets of the cyber attack

The cyber attack affected multiple targets, including Cabinet ministers, former MI6 spy chief Sir Richard Dearlove, SNP MP Stewart McDonald, and former Prime Minister Liz Truss. Sir Richard's leaked emails revealed his support for a hard Brexit, while Mr McDonald was targeted by Russian intelligence posing as a member of his staff. Liz Truss's mobile phone was also reportedly hacked, although the identity of the hackers remains unclear.

Response from UK officials

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron described Russia's attempts to interfere as "completely unacceptable," but emphasized that they have ultimately failed. Home Secretary James Cleverly warned that fundamental British values and freedoms were under attack and pledged to make the UK a tougher environment for spies and hackers. The NCSC, which is part of the GCHQ intelligence service, highlighted the use of spear-phishing attacks, where hackers pose as trusted contacts, as one of the tactics employed in the cyber attacks.

Russian meddling and previous cyber attacks

This recent cyber attack is just the latest in a series of Russian interference in international affairs. In 2016, the Fancy Bear hackers, controlled by Russia's GRU military intelligence, stole emails from Hillary Clinton's US presidential campaign team. Another group known as Cozy Bear, run by Putin's SVR foreign intelligence service, attempted to steal Covid vaccines from the UK, US, and Canada in 2020. The GRU was also responsible for the Novichok nerve agent attack on Sergei and Julia Skripal in Salisbury in 2018, and the fatal poisoning of defector Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006, among other incidents.

Russian hackers launched cyber attack on UK MPs in an attempt to derail democracy

Overall, this cyber attack on UK MPs demonstrates the ongoing threat posed by Russian state hackers and their attempts to undermine democratic processes. The UK government is committed to strengthening its defenses and cracking down on cyber espionage.