Jeremy Corbyn warns cyber attack on Labour could be a 'sign of things to come'

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks to supporters. Photograph: Jacob King/PA.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks to supporters. Photograph: Jacob King/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Jeremy Corbyn has warned that a cyber attack on Labour's digital platforms could be a "sign of things to come" in the general election.

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The Labour leader said the timing of the attack - which slowed some of the party's campaign activities - was "suspicious" and had made him "nervous" about what might happen in the rest of the campaign.

The so-called "distributed denial-of-service" (DDoS) attack was described by the party as "sophisticated and large-scale".

However, a source at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is investigating the incident, said it was relatively "low level" with no evidence of "state-sponsored activity".

In a DDoS attack, hackers flood a target's online platforms with traffic from various sources, with the aim of slowing down access or causing websites to crash.

Labour said the attack had failed due to the "robust security systems" it had put in place and that it was confident there had not been any data breach.

While its security procedures had led to a temporary slowdown in it its campaigning activities, they were later back up to "full speed".

However, speaking at a Labour campaign event in Blackpool, Corbyn expressed concern about the implications for the rest of the election campaign.

"We have a system in place in our office to protect us against these cyber attacks, but it was a very serious attack against us," he said.

"So far as we're 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.

"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, something one is very worried about."

He referred to the WannaCry attack, which caused widespread disruption to the NHS during the 2017 general election and was subsequently blamed on North Korean hackers known as the Lazarus Group.

"A cyber attack, as happened in 2017 against our NHS, is something that is incredibly dangerous to the health records and the healthcare and treatment of potentially millions of people, and so we do need far better defensive arrangements against cyber attacks made against us," he said.

Tariq Saied, Chief Information Officer at IT and telecoms provider, Daisy Communications, said the situation could have been worse for Labour.

"After the WannaCry ransom attack on the NHS in 2017 and, more recently, a widespread spate of attacks against South African banks, DDoS attacks have been making headlines. Unfortunately, they're happening a lot more frequently than what's being reported in the news. While a DDoS attack isn't as sophisticated as other cybersecurity threats, they're happening daily and deserve to be taken seriously, particularly during a general election.

"Fortunately, Labour had procedures in place to handle the attack because the party could've experienced severe consequences, such as a loss of confidential data, which could've damaged their campaign.

"DDoS protection doesn't have to be costly, so this attack should serve as a wake-up call to organisations to ensure they have the right infrastructure in place to deal with any threats."

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