Jeremy Corbyn says he is ‘very nervous’ about election security as Labour foils cyber attack

Posted On: 
12th November 2019

Jeremy Corbyn admitted he was "very nervous" about attempts by hackers to disrupt the general election after Labour was hit by a "serious" cyber-attack.

Jeremy Corbyn said the UK needed to beef up its defensive cyber capabilities
Credit: 
PA

The Labour leader said his party were investigating who was behind the “sophisticated” attempt to disrupt its online systems.

In an email to staff on Tuesday morning, Niall Sookoo, Labour’s election and campaign director, said the party’s “robust security systems” had defended the “integrity” of their data.

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Security sources have told the BBC that it was a low-level hack, rather than a major attack.

But speaking during a campaign trip to Blackpool, Mr Corbyn said: “It was a very serious cyber attack. We have a system in place in our office to protect us against cyber attacks, but it was a very serious attack against us. 

“So far as we are aware, none of our information was downloaded and the attack was actually repulsed because we have an effective in-house developed system by people within our party.”

He added: “But if this is a sign of things to come in this election, I feel very nervous about it all. Because a cyber attack against a political party in an election is suspicious and something one is very worried about."

Mr Corbyn likened the incident to the 2017 ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack which saw thousands of NHS computers taken offline, resulting in non-critical operations being cancelled.

And he said the attack was proof the UK needed “far better” defensive capabilities against cyber strikes.

”A cyber attack has happened in 2017 against our National Health Service is something that is incredibly dangerous to the health records and the healthcare and treatment of potentially millions of people,” he said.

“So we do need far better defensive arrangements against cyber attacks made against us.

“As to who undertook the attack, we are looking into all that at the moment and we have obviously reported the attack to the National Cyber Security Centre and they will be investigating it as well.”

A spokesperson for the NCSC said: "The NCSC has worked closely with political parties for several years on how to protect and defend against cyber attacks. We met the major parties last week ahead of the general election.

"In terms of this incident, the Labour Party followed the correct, agreed procedures and notified us swiftly. The NCSC is confident the party took the necessary steps to deal with the attack. The attack was not successful and the incident is now closed."

'DONOR DATA BREACH'

The incident came just hours after The Times revealed the party were forced to close another apparent security loophole which allowed access to a list of party donors using information available in the party’s website source code.

The party has now removed the information but told the paper they would not be reporting themselves to the Information Commissioner’s Office over the breach.

It does not appear the two incidents are linked.

A party spokesperson said: “The Labour party takes its responsibilities for data protection extremely seriously. If any concerns are raised we assess them in line with our responsibilities under GDPR and the Data Protection Act.”