“We have ongoing security processes in place to protect our platforms, so users may be experiencing some differences,” the spokeswoman told the Guardian. “We are dealing with this quickly and efficiently.”
The attacks do not appear to be linked to a state actor, the Guardian reported.
Foreign election interference has emerged as a significant threat worldwide since U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that Russian actors initiated misinformation campaigns and hacked Democratic Party computer systems in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election. In Britain, Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has prepared a report on Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 Brexit referendum and 2017 general election, but the government has not agreed to its publication and will not do so until after the Dec. 12 election.
The move has drawn criticism from Labour officials, who say holding up the report is politically motivated. On Tuesday, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton blasted the delay as “inexplicable and shameful.”
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn called the timing of the cyberattacks “suspicious” while speaking to reporters Tuesday.
“If this is a sign of things to come in this election, I feel very nervous about it all because a cyber attack against a political party in an election is suspicious and something one is very worried about,” he said.
Hackers employed a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on the Labour platforms, which floods servers with fake traffic in an attempt to crash them. Such attacks are common and cheap to mount, but they vary in size and sophistication. A week-long DDoS attack capable of taking a small organization offline can be purchased for $150 on the black market, according to Digital Attack Map.
The party alerted the National Cyber Security Center, the U.K.'s top cybersecurity organization, after the first attack but no immediate action was needed by the agency.
Such cyberattacks have spiked in 2019, according to a Neustar report, and are growing more complex. But even the successful ones rarely do much damage beyond disrupting service to the targeted sites, although even short outages can cost companies tens of thousands of dollars. Clouldflare, the San Francisco-based security company that services the Labour Party, has a network capacity that is 15 times greater than the biggest DDoS attack ever recorded.
Ahead of a 2017 general election, Britain was hit by the “WannaCry” ransomware attack, which affected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries and wreaked havoc on Britain’s National Health Service, disrupting thousands of appointments and operations. The attack ultimately cost the NHS £92 million.