UK’s Electoral Commission Falls Victim to Sophisticated Cyber Attack

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The UK’s electoral overseer, the Electoral Commission, has disclosed that it was targeted by a sophisticated cyber attack. The commission revealed that unspecified “hostile actors” successfully accessed copies of electoral registers dating back to August 2021. The breach also extended to infiltrating the commission’s email and control systems, although the intrusion went unnoticed until October last year.

Public Alert Issued

The commission has issued a public alert urging citizens to be vigilant about potential unauthorized use or release of their personal data. The watchdog emphasized that it had stored the registers for research purposes and for verifying political donors. The accessed data comprised names and addresses of individuals in the UK who registered to vote between 2014 and 2022.

Scope of Compromised Data

The accessed data also included the names (excluding addresses) of overseas voters. However, data related to individuals who registered anonymously for safety or security reasons remained unaffected. The commission reassured the public that personal data stored on its email servers posed a low risk to individuals, though information contained within emails or attachments could be vulnerable.

Immediate Measures and Ongoing Investigation

In response to the attack, the commission has taken swift action to bolster its system defenses against future breaches. This includes updating login requirements, enhancing alert systems, and reinforcing firewall policies. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK’s data protection authority, has initiated an urgent investigation into the matter.

Apology and Assurance

Chief executive officer Shaun McNally expressed understanding for the public’s concerns and extended apologies to those impacted by the breach. Notably, the commission confirmed that its system containing information about political party donations and loans remained unaffected by the incident.

The cyber attack on the UK’s Electoral Commission underscores the persistent threat of cyber breaches to institutions and individuals, emphasizing the importance of robust cybersecurity measures and heightened vigilance in the digital age.

SOURCE: Ref Image from Evening Standard

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