London: The Russian government is suspected of being behind a cyber-attack on Britain’s parliament that breached dozens of email accounts belonging to MPs and peers, according to a report by the Guardian.
Although the investigation is at an early stage and the identity of those responsible may prove impossible to establish with absolute certainty, Moscow is deemed the most likely culprit, the daily reported.
A parliamentary spokesman said the disclosure follows the release of the first details of the “sustained” cyber-attack that began on Friday. He said that fewer than 90 email accounts belonging to parliamentarians are believed to have been hacked.
Amid fears that the breach could lead to blackmail attempts, officials were forced to lock MPs out of their own email accounts as they scrambled to minimise the damage from the incident.
The network affected is used by every MP including Theresa May, the Prime Minister, and her Cabinet Ministers for dealing with constituents.
The British security services believe that responsibility for the attack is more likely to lie with another state rather than a small group of individual hackers.
The number of states who might mount such an attack on the UK is limited, and, in addition to Russia, includes North Korea, China and Iran.
MPs contacted by the Guardian said the immediate suspicion had fallen upon foreign governments such as Russia and North Korea, both of which have been accused of being behind hacking attempts in the UK before.
In May, Russia was linked to the hacking of France’s computer systems during the presidential campaign, taking data from Emmanuel Macron’s campaign and leaking it to the public.
US officials have previously said they were seeking to share their experience of the 2016 presidential election, where US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia hacked and leaked Democratic party communications and disseminated fake news with the aim of getting Donald Trump elected.
The attack on the Houses of Parliament sought to gain access to accounts protected by weak passwords.