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Cyber Attacks by Russians may target UK Elections, Warn Spies at Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)

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London, March 12, 2017: Spies at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have called an emergency summit with Britains political parties after warning them that the next general election is vulnerable to cyber attacks by the Russians.

Ciaran Martin, chief executive of GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), has written to leaders of all the main political parties offering expert help to strengthen network security, reported the Sunday Times.

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In his letter, Martin said: “You will be aware of the coverage of evnts in the United States, Germany and elsewhere reminding us of the potential for hostile action against the UK political system.”

He called a “technical seminar” on cyber-security for politicians.

“This is not just about the network security of political parties’ own systems. Attacks against our democratic processes go beyond this and can include attacks on Parliament, constituency offices, think tanks and pressure groups and individuals’ email accounts,” Martin said.

Experts at GCHQ have made protecting the political system from foreign hackers as “priority work”.

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They fear that Kremlin-backed hackers could steal and leak internal emails or publish private databases of voters’ political views in an attempt to damage the standing of political parties with the public, according to the report.

A senior government source said GCHQ would help with the security of “personal datasets, including the electoral roll and voter identification data”.

Security officials stepped in after Russia was accused of helping Donald Trump win the US presidential ­election by hacking and publishing 20,000 emails from the rival Democratic Party.

Russia was also accused of infiltrating the German Parliament’s computer network in 2015. (IANS)

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Heavy Cyber Attacks From Russia, US, China In India

These honeypots are developed to deceive even elite hackers and appear to be serving a specific purpose or organisation.

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A man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture. VOA

India has been the target of over 4.3 lakh cyber attacks from five countries including China, Russia and the US while more than 73,000 attacks were initiated from India between January and June this year, says a Finnish cybersecurity company.

According to F-Secure’s honeypot data, Russia, the US, China, the Netherlands and Germany targeted India with 436,090 attacks. This is nearly 12 times more than which originated from India.

Honeypots are basically decoy servers that emulate the real IT environment of a business enterprise.

cyber attacks
Due to its nature, the chip is physically unclonable and can, thus, render the device invulnerable to hijacking, counterfeiting or replication by cyber-criminals. Pixabay

Russia accounted for most cyber attacks on India (255,589), followed by the US (103,458), China (42,544), the Netherlands (19,169) and 15,330 attacks from Germany.

On the other hand, the top five countries that were targeted by Indian cyber attackers were Austria, the Netherlands, the UK, Japan, and Ukraine — a total of 36,563.

F-Secure gave the break-up: Austria (12,540), the Netherlands (9,267), the UK (6,347), Japan (4,701) and 3,708 attacks targeted Ukraine’s businesses.

“The relatively higher number of inbound attacks on Indian honeypots reflects how the fast-digitising country is becoming more lucrative for global cyber criminals,” Leszek Tasiemski, Vice President of cyber security products R&D at F-Secure, said in a statement on Sunday.

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Experts: Cyber attacks Growing Increasingly Sophisticated. Pixabay

“We are gathering and analysing all the pertinent data to ensure that our customers stay protected given the dynamically evolving threat landscape,” he added.

To track these cyber attacks, F-Secure has deployed 41 honeypots across the globe.

“Our public honeypots are a valuable source of threat intelligence and an integral part of the infrastructure that powers our various security offerings, including our Rapid Detection and Response Service,” Tasiemski said.

Honeypots are set up explicitly to grab attention of attackers. They are used to gain critical insights on attack types, popular targets, sources, volume and TTPs (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures).

Such insights are collected by deliberately allowing potential attackers to gain unauthorized access to the emulated services of a server and then studying the attack path to the point that the attacker realizes it is a honeypot, F-secure said.

Also Read: U.S. Government Warns People Against China-Linked Hacking Group

These honeypots are developed to deceive even elite hackers and appear to be serving a specific purpose or organisation.

They enable F-Secure to collect the latest malware samples or shell scripts and new hacking techniques.

The research data is then processed to further benefit F-Secure customers via product enhancements and threat intelligence reports. (IANS)