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What caused the Labour Party cyber attack?

Written by Tue 12 Nov 2019

NCSC source said attack was “low level” and that there was no suggestion of state-sponsored activity

The Labour Party has said it experienced a “sophisticated and large-scale cyber attack” on its digital platforms, which was later revealed to be a DDoS attack.

A Labour source confirmed that the attack was DDoS in nature, meaning that the perpetrator attempted to cause its digital platforms to crash by flooding them with so much traffic from various sources that services struggle to load properly.

Attackers do this by seeking the help of many thousands of internet users to each generate a small number of requests which collectively overload the target. The attack can originate from willing accomplices or by unwitting victims whose machines have been infected with malware.

The level of sophistication depends on who was behind it, but anyone can launch them. NCSC source told PA the attack was ‘low-level’.

“It depends on the attacker and structure,” said Dr Edward Apeh, principal academic in computing at Bournemouth University.

“It can be very simple if it’s a novice actually putting the system in place but if it’s an extremist attack, and given the level of the Labour Party, then you expect whoever is doing this to be several layers behind and wanting to be anonymous.”

It’s not yet clear who caused the attack, though the Labour Party said it had informed the NCSC.

Dr Apeh explained: “Attribution for this problem here right now will be very hard except if a group comes out and says they are responsible – it’s going to be very hard to attribute the attack to any particular person, but it’s a technique used by all the known typical attackers from the North Koreans, the Lazarus Group, to even the Anonymous group, so any group can actually do this, it depends who’s driving them.”

A source from the NCSC said there was no evidence of state-sponsored activity.

A spokesman for Labour said it took “swift action” and that attempts failed due to “robust security systems”. Labour said it was “confident” that no data breach occurred.

Written by Tue 12 Nov 2019


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