World / Politics

U.K. Labour Party hit by cyberattack ahead of election

Reuters

Britain’s main opposition Labour Party said on Tuesday it was subject to a large-scale cyberattack on its digital platforms just weeks before a national election but it was confident no data breach occurred.

British security services have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks or divisive political messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the Dec. 12 election.

“We have experienced a sophisticated and large-scale cyber attack on Labour digital platforms,” a party spokesman said in a statement.

“We took swift action and these attempts failed due to our robust security systems. The integrity of all our platforms was maintained and we are confident that no data breach occurred.”

But a security official with knowledge of the matter said the attack was a short-lived and relatively unsophisticated attempt to take down some of the party’s websites by flooding them with malicious traffic.

“It was really very everyday, nothing more than what you would expect to see on a regular basis,” the official said. “It looked like someone bored in their bedroom with a botnet.”

The Labour spokesman said the party had reported the incident to the National Cyber Security Centre and that while the attack had “slowed down some of our campaign activities,” they had been restored earlier on Tuesday.

The center, part of the GCHQ signals intelligence agency, was not immediately available for comment.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the attack had made him nervous about the rest of the campaign.

“If this is a sign of things to come in this election, I feel very nervous about it all because a cyber attack against a political party in an election is suspicious and something one is very worried about,” he said when asked by a reporter about the attack during a campaign event.

Corbyn said the party was looking into who might have been behind the attack.

Britain goes to the polls on Dec. 12 in an election called by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to try to break the Brexit deadlock in Parliament more than three years since the country voted to leave the European Union.

A report by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has investigated Russian activity in British politics and reportedly includes charges of spying and interference in polls, including the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2017 national election.

The government, however, has declined to publish it before the upcoming election.