After Westminster attack, now Scottish parliament hit by brute-forcing attack

The Scottish Parliament has been targeted by a “brute force” attack, the assault is still ongoing and is similar to the one that hit the British Parliament.

The Scottish Parliament is under attack, crooks are brute-forcing email accounts in the attempt to access members’ emails.

The attack appears similar to the one that in June targeted the British Parliament and that caused the IT staff to shut down external access to mitigate the threat.

MSPs and Holyrood staff were warned on Tuesday that unidentified hackers were running “brute-force” attacks on systems in the devolved assembly,

“Chief executive Sir Paul Grice said the attack, from “external sources”, was similar to that which affected Westminster in June.

He confirmed the attack in a message to MSPs and staff with parliamentary email addresses, urging them to be vigilant.” reported the BBC.

“Mr Grice said “robust cyber security measures” identified the attack early, and systems “remain fully operational”.”

Mr Grice sent an email to MSPs and Parliament staff to check the security of their passwords and improve it as possible, he also announced a password reset for weak passwords. The IT staff at the Scottish Parliament is urging Legislators and support staff to update their passwords with longer and stronger combinations of letters, numbers and special characters in response.

“The parliament’s monitoring systems have identified that we are currently the subject of a brute force cyber attack from external sources.” reads Mr Grice’s email.

“This attack appears to be targeting parliamentary IT accounts in a similar way to that which affected the Westminster Parliament in June. Symptoms of the attack include account lockouts or failed logins.”

“The parliament’s robust cyber security measures identified this attack at an early stage and the additional security measures which we have in readiness for such situations have already been invoked. Our IT systems remain fully operational.”

Russian state-sponsored hackers were blamed for the attacks against Westminster systems occurred in June that led to the exposure of at least 90 accounts.

According to El Reg that has seen the message issued to all MSPs and staff at Holyrood, the cyber-attack is still ongoing and there is no evidence to suggest that the hackers have breached Scottish Parliament defences. IT systems continue to be fully operational.

Sincerely speaking I really don’t understand why sensitive email accounts are not protected by a two-factor authentication mechanism and why users are not forced to use strong passwords.

Pierluigi Paganini

August 21, 2017

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