Labour Party targeted by ‘large scale’ cyber attack

The Labour Party has been struck with a massive cyber attack against its digital systems at a time where campaigning for the upcoming general election has started to heat up.

The incident has been described as 'sophisticated and large scale', but has nevertheless failed due to Labour's "robust security systems", according to the party. Moreover, there has not been a security breach, and no data has been compromised.

Reports suggest the attack was a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that aimed to flood Labour's digital platforms with traffic in a bid to disrupt activity.

"We have experienced a sophisticated and large scale cyber attack on Labour digital platforms," a spokesperson told IT Pro.

"We took swift action and these attempts failed due to our robust security systems. The integrity of all our platforms was maintained and we are confident that no data breach occurred."

"Our security procedures have slowed down some of our campaign activities, but these were restored this morning and we are back up to full speed. We have reported the matter to the National Cyber Security Centre."

This is the first such cyber attack launched against a political party during the 2019 general election campaign.

The Labour Party previously reported a data breach to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in February this year, although this incident was not due to an external attack. It was understood, at the time, the party accused at least one of its former MPs who defected to a rival party of improperly accessing systems to contact members for campaigning purposes.

The UK has not yet seen the sort of large-scale, politically-charged cyber attacks that afflicted the 2016 US Election; specifically with regards to the Russian state interfering with the US election by hacking Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers.

The incident, however, could point towards a changing political landscape in the UK, with cyber criminals attempting to interfere in the political process by targeting party systems.

"The NCSC has worked closely with political parties for several years on how to protect and defend against cyber attacks," a spokesperson told IT Pro. "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."

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.