A Commons Comittee has claimed Russian hackers may have crashed a Government website
A powerful Commons Committee released a report citing “indications” there may have been a devastating cyber-attack on a Government website just weeks before the vote.
While the Public Administration Committee (PAC) said there was “no direct evidence” of foreign interference, it added there were signs the website collapse could have been triggered by a “distributed denial of service” (DDOS) attack.
This occurs when “botnets” – a collection of devices connected to the internet – are used by hackers to overwhelm a network of computers.
Leave supporters claimed the website crash gave former PM David Cameron an advantage
The website crash sparked uproar last June after the Government gave voters an extra 24 hours to register to vote for the historic referendum.
Vote Leave campaigners claimed this gave former Prime Minister David Cameron more time to sign up Remain-leaning youngsters.
We do not rule out the possibility the crash may have been caused by DDOS using botnets
But the PAC yesterday said: “We do not rule out the possibility the crash may have been caused by DDOS using botnets.”
The committee, led by Brexit-backing Tory MP Bernard Jenkin, said they believed the attack failed to have any “material” effect on the outcome of the Brexit vote.
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Labour MP Ben Bradshaw called for an inquiry into Russian Brexit involvement
But the committee’s report said the Government should draw up tougher cyber-defence plans, citing dangers from China and Russia.
It said: “The US and UK understanding of ‘cyber’ is predominantly technical computer-based network, while Russia and China use a cognitive approach based on understanding of mass psychology and of how to exploit individuals.”
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Google's Chinese operations were targeted in 2009
Some MPs have warned of foreign interference in British democracy in the past.
Former culture secretary Ben Bradshaw criticised Theresa May in February for not “letting on” if the Government was aware of Russian hacking during the Brexit vote.
And Labour MP Mr Bradshaw in December brought up concerns in the House of Commons over the scale of Russian state-sponsored cyber warfare.
Remain-backing Bradshaw is concerned Russia provided direct funding to Brexit campaigners and believes Putin’s spies may have set up social media accounts spreading fake news.