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British security officials play down cyber attack on Labour

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

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LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — British security officials said yesterday that an attempted cyber attack on the main Opposition Labour Party during general election campaigning had failed.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) — part of Britain's spy agency GCHQ — said it was “confident the party took the necessary steps to deal with the attack”.

Labour described the attack which took place on Monday as “large-scale”.

“The Labour Party followed the correct, agreed procedures and notified us swiftly,” an NCSC spokeswoman said in a statement.

“The attack was not successful and the incident is now closed.”

However, yesterday afternoon the main Labour party website ( labour.org.uk) was inaccessible.

Instead, the website showed a message from a cybersecurity firm warning of a problem.

The party did not have an immediate comment.

It had earlier revealed that Monday's attempted hack had been repelled without an apparent data breach.

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

“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,” he added.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn admitted he was worried about other potential attacks.

In a speech on the campaign trail in Blackpool, north-west England, Corbyn said the incident was “very serious”, even if it had ultimately failed.

“But if this is a sign to come in this election, I feel very nervous about it all,” he told supporters.

“Because a cyberattack against a political party in an election is suspicious and something one is very worried about.”

Some campaign activities were slowed but they were restored early yesterday and were now back to normal, according to the party.

Labour confirmed it had promptly reported the attack to the NCSC, which monitors and works to protect security systems.

The agency said it has been working closely with British political parties for several years “on how to protect and defend against cyber- attacks”, and had met the major parties last week ahead of the December 12 election.

There is lingering concern in Britain about the potential for outside interference in the general election, with major parties increasingly relying on digital messaging.


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