The Labour Party has announced that its digital platforms have been struck by a “sophisticated and large-scale cyber-attack.”
In a letter sent to Labour campaigners, Niall Sookoo, the party’s Executive Director of Elections and Campaigns, said: “Yesterday afternoon our security systems identified that, in a very short period of time, there were large-scale and sophisticated attacks on Labour Party platforms which had the intention of taking our systems entirely offline.
“Every single one of these attempts failed due to our robust security systems and the integrity of all our platforms and data was maintained.”
It is thought to have been a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack which aims to take a server offline by flooding it with huge volumes of traffic.
The BBC is reporting that the attack originated in Russia and Brazil, although this should not be seen as evidence that it was a state-sponsored event.
This latest development again shines a spotlight on the security of the electoral process, following claims of Russian interference in the last US Presidential election.
Stuart Reed, VP of Cyber Security at Nominet has commented on the attack: “The news of a ‘large-scale cyber-attack’ on the Labour Party’s digital platforms really comes as no surprise. Arguably, it was only a matter of time before fierce competition on the campaign trail made its way into the online world. Whether this was an attack by another party or an outsider hasn’t been revealed, but it demonstrates that these elections, more than any other, will be fought both in the virtual and physical world.
“A cyber-attack in the political world has additional consequences, not least because it can sway public sentiment in a way that determines future governance. How the public view the attacked and the attacker will give them an impression of their digital competency and cyber maturity. While the Labour Party seems to have defended against this attack, it will be interesting to see if others can do the same. It will also tell us a lot about priorities and the type of cyber defence being used to achieve both holistic visibility and the ability to identify and eliminate threats early; an area where network detection and response can be critical.
“This is the first stone to be thrown in the cybersecurity space for this election but it won’t be the last. As we’ve seen in examples across the world, the political environment is now inseparably intertwined with the cyber world and the consequences of any major attack could go down in history.”