Russian cyber attacks ‘could threaten British democracy’

Russian cyber attacks ‘could threaten British democracy’

Russian cyber attacks could threaten the United Kingdom’s democratic processes, the chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has warned.

According to The Sunday Times, Ciaran Martin wrote to MPs to raise awareness of the threat Russian hackers pose to political parties and elections. “You will be aware of the coverage of events in the United States, Germany and elsewhere reminding us of the potential for hostile action against the UK political system,” he wrote, according to reports.

“This is not just about the network security of political parties’ own systems. Attacks against our democratic processes go beyond this and can include attacks on parliament, constituency offices, think tanks and pressure groups and individuals’ email accounts.”

Martin added that GCHQ would offer seminars to help political parties stay more secure against hacking and cyber attacks.

The warning comes after alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and reports of “increasingly aggressive cyber espionage” in Germany.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson said that while there is no current evidence that Russian hackers are attacking the UK’s democratic processes, there is evidence that they are capable of it and have been up to “all sorts of dirty tricks”.

In February, NCSC technical director Dr Ian Levy warned that “massively incentivised” cyber security vendors are exaggerating hackers’ capabilities to sell their products. He said that in many breaches, cyber criminals take advantage of relatively simple flaws in organisations’ networks, but it is played up like “medieval witchcraft”.

The NCSC opened in October last year with the aim of helping businesses and individuals to stay more secure. In its first month, it responded to nearly 70 voluntarily reported security incidents from “all types of organisations”.

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