Members of Parliament (MPs) have been targeted by 22,321,459 malicious email attacks over the last 8 months, from 1st January to 31st August – averaging out at roughly 2,790,182 attacks per month. The attacks, which were all successfully blocked, include emails suspected of being phishing, spam and malware.
The data was obtained via a Freedom of Information (FOI) act request from a Parliament Street think tank.
In comparison, last year’s Parliament Street report showed just 1,747,759 monthly average attacks were aimed at MPs. This means there has been a rise of nearly one million email attacks per month, or 60 per cent increase when compared to last year’s figures.
This surge in cyber attacks comes following Parliament’s 2019 announcement that it had implemented a two-year programme dedicated to building and maintaining ‘cyber capabilities’, and reducing risk facing staff and data. However, it is likely that Covid-19, and the attention it has drawn to the government, has been the cause for this anomalistic surge in cyber attacks.
In an effort to further address this issue, researchers observed that the House of Commons recently advertised a job opening for a new Director of Security for Parliament. The job description described ‘cyber security’, as well as physical and personal protection, as a core component of the role.
Cyber attacks on Parliaments around the world have become an increasingly common occurrence.
In September 2020, the Norwegian Parliament disclosed a cyber-attack on its internal email system. On 23 June 2017 the UK Parliament suffered a cyber attack, with 26 users of the parliamentary had their accounts directly compromised. The included constituency offices, a member of the House of Lords, as well as personnel and administrators.
Additionally in May 2015 up to 20,000 computers operated by staff in the German Parliament were infected by a cyber-attack.