Scottish Parliament repels 'brute-force cyberattack' as MSPs urged to toughen up passwords

Written by Sam Trendall on 17 August 2017 in News
News

Holyrood reports that systems remain operational and no accounts are known to have been breached following assault by 'external forces'

Survey finds worrying prevalence of simplistic passwords in use by MSPs and Holyrood staff  Credit: PA

The Scottish Parliament appears to have successfully repelled a “brute-force cyberattack”, with all systems remaining up and running and no accounts known to have been breached.

Yesterday afternoon Holyrood chief executive Paul Grice informed MSPs and staff that the parliament’s monitoring technology had detected that the organisation was under attack from “external sources”. 

The assault was described as being “brute force” in nature, indicating that the perpetrators used tools to bombard systems with numerous attempted logins in an attempt to effect a breach via sheer weight of probability – rather than any through any technological or psychological guile.


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Grice said that the parliament’s effective security set-up had helped catch the attack swiftly, and that further measures to combat and mitigate the threat had subsequently been taken. IT systems were still working, and no accounts were known to have been compromised, he added.

But staff and MSPs were warned that the attack might see them temporarily locked out of their account. Grice added that a survey had found a worryingly high level of simplistic passwords, that tools designed to execute brute-force attacks could likely crack. All Holyrood members and employees were urged to make sure their logins were sufficiently secure.

The Scottish Parliament is working with the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre to ensure it remains safe.

The attack on Holyrood is similar in nature to one perpetrated on Westminster MPs earlier this summer, Grice noted.

 

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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