E-mail access cut as hackers hit Westminster

LONDON • The British Parliament has been hit by a cyber attack that is preventing lawmakers from accessing their e-mails when not in Westminster, politicians and media reports said yesterday.

Both Houses of Parliament were targeted last Friday in the attack that sought to gain access to accounts protected by weak passwords, according to the Guardian newspaper. It said MPs were unable to access their e-mails after the attack began.

Mr Chris Rennard, a member of the Liberal Democrat party in the upper House of Lords, said on Twitter: "Cyber security attack on Westminster, Parliamentary emails may not work remotely, Text urgent messages."

Mr Henry Smith, another Conservative MP, tweeted: "Sorry no parliamentary email access today - we're under cyber-attack from Kim Jong-un, Putin or a kid in his mom's basement or something..."

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The BBC quoted a spokesman at the House of Commons as saying the lack of e-mail access was due to the steps being taken to manage the issue.

"The Houses of Parliament have discovered unauthorised attempts to access parliamentary user accounts," the spokesman said. "We are continuing to investigate this incident and take further measures to secure the computer network, liaising with the National Cyber Security Centre. Systems were in place to protect member and staff accounts," she said.

Britain's National Health Service was hit by a massive ransomware work last month which crippled the computer system and forced some hospitals to turn away patients.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 25, 2017, with the headline 'E-mail access cut as hackers hit Westminster'. Print Edition | Subscribe