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UK Parliament Hit by Cyberattack

© SputnikThe famous Elizabeth Tower in the UK Houses of Parliament, which contains the Great Bell, known as Big Ben.
The famous Elizabeth Tower in the UK Houses of Parliament, which contains the Great Bell, known as Big Ben. - Sputnik International
The British Parliament was the victim of a "sustained and determined" cyberattack on Saturday, according to reports.

In an email sent to British lawmakers and staff Saturday, the UK's National Cyber Security Center stated, "Earlier this morning we discovered unusual activity and evidence of an attempted cyberattack on our computer network."

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"Closer investigation by our team confirmed that hackers were carrying out a sustained and determined attack on all parliamentary user accounts in an attempt to identify weak passwords," the email, cited by Reuters, continued.

Remote accessibility to email accounts within the governing body was quickly shut down and lawmakers and staff were only able to use the service if they were physically present in the buildings of the Parliament.

"As a precaution we have temporarily restricted remote access to the network," said a spokesperson for the House of Commons, who added,
"some members of Parliament and staff cannot access their email accounts outside of Westminster."

UK cyber-intelligence services moved quickly to address the ongoing issue, providing a statement that government security branches were working together to stave off the cyberattack.

"We are continuing to investigate this incident and take further measures to secure the computer network, liaising with the National Cyber Security Centre," the House of Commons spokesperson said.

The cyberattack appeared to be limited to attempting to crack weak passwords, according to Reuters. Multiple unauthorized attempts were made to access parliamentary email accounts.

The attack comes barely one month after a global ransomware attack took down almost all of the country's National Health Service network, causing a massive communications slowdown and resulting in patients not being able to receive treatment and ambulances to require the use of normal telephone networks to verbally direct their operations.

UK Minister for International Trade Liam Fox stated that he felt that Saturday's attack was no surprise, and must act as a warning to all citizens of the UK.

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"We've seen reports in the last few days of even cabinet ministers' passwords being for sale online," Fox said. "We know that our public services are attacked so it's not at all surprising that there should be an attempt to hack into parliamentary emails."

The National Cyber Security Center was created in October 2016 under the aegis of the UK GCHQ spy agency after lawmakers observed that cybersecurity had become the nation's most pressing security issue, trumping terrorism and any threat of war.

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