The Labour Party says there has been a “sophisticated and large-scale cyber-attack” on its online platforms.
The party said the hacking attempt failed because of the “robust” security systems it has implemented and no data breach had occurred.
A source close to the party’s digital team said the party’s digital infrastructure was the target of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), where hackers flood a service with traffic to try and overwhelm its servers and force it offline. The source of such traffic is generally a so-called “bot net” of million of computers and other digital devices infected with malware and controlled remotely by hackers.
Such attacks have taken down the web services of businesses such as VISA, PayPal, and Sony Pictures in the past. However, Labour uses Cloudflare amongst a number of tools to protect its online presence, and appears to have successfully repelled the attack.
Labour believes the attack originated in Russia, as much of the traffic originated there, but it is difficult to be certain as hackers routinely rent out bot nets to other groups.
In a letter sent to Labour campaigners earlier today, Labour executive director of elections Niall Sookoo said: “Yesterday afternoon our security systems identified that, in a very short period of time, there were large-scale and sophisticated attacks on Labour Party platforms which had the intention of taking our systems entirely offline.
“Every single one of these attempts failed due to our robust security systems and the integrity of all our platforms and data was maintained.
“I would I like to pay tribute to all the teams at Labour HQ who identified this risk and acted quickly to protect us.”
Labour has reported the attack to the National Cyber Security Centre, but has not yet confirmed which part of its systems were affected.
The attack comes amid controversy about the Conservative government’s refusal to publish a report on alleged Russian interference in British politics. Russia carried out a sustained digital campaign to help elect Donald Trump in the US, and many believe a similar attack targeted the UK during the Brexit campaign. The Sunday Times alleges the report may have been suppressed by Boris Johnson as it names nine major Russian Conservative Party donors as involved in illicit Russian activities in Britain and asks serious questions about Russian influence within the Johnson government. Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called the government’s failure to publish the report “shameful“.