Suspected hackers exclusively targeting British MPs with phishing e-mails

Suspected hackers have been exclusively targeting British Members of Parliament via phishing e-mails, warn security officials.

Hackers have been trying to obtain passwords and personal details of British MPs via phishing e-mails sent to personal accounts.

The National Cyber Security Centre has flagged several attempts made by suspected hackers to obtain personal details of British Members of Parliament and has advised ministers and their staff to look out for such activities. Such phishing e-mails include asking MPs to disclose IDs and passwords of their personal accounts or to log in to fake websites.

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"Attackers might send legitimate-looking password reset emails, urgent-sounding messages about financial problems, account change notifications requests, or links to documents that require you to log in with passwords," said the agency.

"The emails are very convincing and could arrive at an individual’s personal or work email account, perhaps even appearing to come from someone known to the recipient," it added. It also warned that phishing attacks are likely to continue and that MPs should desist from sharing their passwords with unknown recipients.

Social engineering has previously been used by hackers to shape public opinion ahead of elections in the United States and France. By obtaining personal information like e-mails and social media interactions, hackers can create rumours and fake news which can easily libel and slander candidates.

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To prevent this, the National Cyber Security Centre has also asked MPs and their staff to enable multi-factor authentication in their devices, view and validate device logins, terminate current sessions, forward suspicious e-mails and educate followers about phishing attempts.

Germany is also gearing up for general elections in September and is strengthening its cyber-security protocols to fight cyber-attacks by Russian hackers. "We recognize this as a campaign being directed from Russia. Our counterpart is trying to generate information that can be used for disinformation or for influencing operations. Whether they do it or not is a political decision ... that I assume will be made in the Kremlin," said Hans-Georg Maassen, president of the BfV agency which is entrusted with keeping the Constitution secure.

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Information taken via cyber-attacks is being used by Russians to create fake news and propaganda to influence opinions of voter ahead of the September elections, he added. One such example was the news about the rape of a 13-year Russian-German girl at the hands of migrants. News was also spread about the father of former European Parliament President Martin Schulz running a Nazi concentration camp during the world war.