Boris Johnson, the U.K. foreign minister, says that there is proof that Russians have the ability to infiltrate the virtual communications of political parties, not long after a British intelligence agency sent a letter to organizations warning them of foreign influence.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) advised political parties to vamp up their cybersecurity out of worries that Russian hackers will try to infiltrate their systems, according to Reuters, referring to the U.S. intelligence agencies’ reports of the Kremlin’s influence in the U.S. presidential elections.
“We have no evidence that the Russians are actually involved in trying to undermine our democratic processes at the moment,” Johnson said Sunday, according to Reuters. “But what we do have is plenty of evidence that the Russians are capable of doing that. And there is no doubt that they’ve been up to all sorts of dirty tricks.”
The NCSC, which is part of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), is the U.K.’s branch of government that is tasked with providing technical advice and support, specifically regarding cyber threats, to both public and private entities. The agency sent the message to leaders of political parties, offering assistance to fortify their network security, according to Reuters.
“You will be aware of the coverage of events in the United States, Germany and elsewhere reminding us of the potential for hostile action against the UK political system,” the official letter from NCSC head Ciaran Martin said. “Attacks against our democratic processes go beyond (political parties) and can include attacks on parliament, constituency offices, think tanks and pressure groups and individuals’ email accounts.”
The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a report in January that says Russian and Soviet intelligence services have “sought to collect insider information from US political parties” for decades.
Several officers for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service were arrested in the U.S. in 2010 after conducting reconnaissance and relaying information about the 2008 election to Moscow, according to the DNI report, which also provides other examples
“In the 1970s, the KGB recruited a Democratic Party activist who reported information about then-presidential hopeful Jimmy Carter’s campaign and foreign policy plans, according to a former KGB archivist.”
The DNI report even says there are once-classified documents showing now-deceased Sen. Ted Kennedy conspiring with the Soviet Union and the KGB in order to prevent President Ronald Reagan winning re-election in the 1984 election.
Just like the American intelligence report, the NCSC letter in the U.K. says that Russia could try to hack elections outside of the U.S.
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