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A total of 39 accounts operated by 26 people, including six MPs, a member of the House of Lords, administrative staff and a sub-contractor, were hit by the attack.
“These compromises were made possible by the use of passwords that were compliant with the technical controls in place but did not conform to guidance issued by the Parliamentary Digital Service,” a spokesperson said.
He cited a major attack last year that stole the data of over 10 million users of Interpark, a Seoul-based online shopping site, in which hackers demanded bitcoin payments worth about million.
Analysts said the hacking attempt used “brute force” tactics and could have been mounted by either state-sponsored actors or criminal gangs to steal valuable information.
“What they do is build massive password databases based on every single dictionary word, cognate and misspelling.
“They can blow through your dog’s name from when you were four years old in about 30 seconds.” Fears of a cyber attack on Parliament had increased following the successful hacks targeting emails related to Hillary Clinton and Emmanuel Macron’s presidential campaigns.
It was followed by a second global ransomware attack using software known as Petya, as well as targeted assaults on American and Irish energy companies.
A report on vulnerabilities in British defence released by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) earlier this month warned of the growing threat of cyber attacks.