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GCHQ warns politicians of Russian hacking threat to British democracy

GCHQ issues a warning of Russian hacking to politicians, and offers defence advice.

By Tom Ball

The computer security chief at the British intelligence and security organisation GCHQ has sent a letter to politicians offering advice on preventing breaches.

Fears of Russian cyber activity have been growing since November, when U.S. intelligence officials pointed to Russia as having had a part to play in influencing the election of President Donald Trump.

As reported by the BBC, Ciaran Martin, chief executive of GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said: “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.”

UK Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon has also expressed concern regarding cyber-attacks carried out by Russia against the West. He said as part of a speech at the University of St Andrews earlier this year that Russia is ‘weaponising information’.


READ MORE: Cybersecurity firms pilloried by GCHQ technical director over “witchcraft”

Jamie Stone, Vice President & GM, EMEA at Anomali said: “GCHQ is right to bring such issues to the attention of political leaders, but it must be remembered that the Russian’s are just one adversary amongst many.

“Much evidence points to them but it is activity that can be easily carried out by other nation states too. Attribution of information security breaches is not an easy task and hiding behind this kind of plausible deniability makes hacking a valuable avenue for nations and politically-motivated groups to meet their agenda during an election.

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Stone said that the shift from using traditional techniques to electronic attacks over the Internet has helped to make these activities easier due in part to being cheaper and less risky. This problem is exacerbated by bad actors tending to share both techniques and tools.

Stone said: “It is time that the security industry takes similar steps and if the GCHQ seminars help to enable this then this can only benefit, obtaining and sharing valuable and actionable intelligence within trusted circles is the only way we will garner even more details to better defend against future threats.”

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