Parliamentary officials warned of cyberthreat from Extinction Rebellion

Written by Sam Trendall on 1 September 2020 in News

Civil servants working on select committees were given security advice in expectation of possible attack

Extinction Rebellion protestors in London on Friday      Credit: Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images

Ahead of the bank-holiday weekend, civil servants working on parliamentary select committees were warned of the threat of a possible cyberattack being launched by environmental activists Extinction Rebellion.

Acting on advice from cyber specialists at the Parliamentary Digital Service, late last week the House of Commons Chamber and Committees team emailed officials that manage a select committee social media account. They were warned that, as part of planned weekend of protest and action over the weekend, Extinction Rebellion might undertake cyberattacks on online accounts representing government.

“We have been informed by the PDS cybersecurity team that parliamentary accounts could possibly be targeted over the bank holiday weekend,” said the email, which was published by the Guido Fawkes blog

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Officials were warned that part of the activist group’s plans for the weekend involve a desire to “explicitly target government social-media accounts, email address and phone lines with the intention of ‘shutting them down online’”.

The email reminded recipients of the need to “set strong passwords”, and instructed them to update account passwords if they had not been changed following the departure of a former employee.

“Check who is able to publish on social media accounts if several team members have access,” the email added.

If they notice “any suspicious activity” on social accounts, officials are advised to change the relevant password and then inform the team that manages “online services” for select committees. If an account is known to have been breached, civil servants must alert a media officer and a “senior content producer” from the online services unit.

As of the morning of Tuesday 1 September, no such breaches – or unsuccessful attacks – have been reported publicly.


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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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