Westminster hack: Here's everything we know so far about this weekend's cyber attack on MPs

Emma Haslett
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The hack was revealed yesterday afternoon (Source: Getty)

Yesterday it emerged MPs had become the latest victims of a cyber security scare, after a "sustained" attack on thousands of parliamentary email accounts was discovered.

A Commons spokesperson admitted it was liaising with the National Cyber Security Centre on the issue.

Here's what we know so far:

So what exactly has happened?

Yesterday MPs and other Westminster workers were locked out of emails on their mobile phones and tablets after parliament was hit by a "sustained and determined" cyber-attack.

Who was affected?

More than 10,000 people were told to change their passwords yesterday. That included MPs and their aides, who were locked out of emails on devices outside Westminster, although they were still able to access messages using systems based inside the Palace of Westminster.

Senior cabinet members are likely to be affected, but it's unlikely Theresa May is - Downing Street has insisted she does not use her parliamentary email account.

How did the culprits get in?

Westminster officials said the hackers had used a so-called brute force attack, which uses software to try to decode passwords by, essentially, trying thousands and thousands of different combinations of numbers and letters until they crack the code.

Was anything stolen?

The Sunday Times cites a senior Whitehall official saying it was "inevitable" some information has been stolen, potentially leaving MPs vulnerable to blackmail.

Who's behind the attack?

Security specialists have said it's likely state-sponsored hackers were behind the attack. Some have pointed the finger at Russia, which has also been blamed for major hacks in the run-up to the US election.

Meanwhile, some MPs had their own theories:

Haven't they been warned about this?

Yep. A report on cyber-security published in November last year suggested Westminster's IT systems were "too complex", while managers were "not fully empowered".

Read more: Wannacry? UK faces most cyber attacks in Europe

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