UK lawmakers broach possible Brexit vote hacking

A UK parliamentary group has said a website for voters to register in last year's Brexit referendum may have been targeted by hackers. The findings follow claims Russia sought to influence the US and French elections.

A report compiled by the UK parliament's Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) said it could not rule out the possibility that foreign hackers may have interfered in last summer's Brexit referendum.

Politics | 29.03.2017

The evidence relates to a website that allowed Britons to register to vote. The site, lawmakers said, may have been targeted and caused to crash just before the registration deadline. The crash was initially blamed on a late rush of young voters to the website.

Read: Post-Brexit, the hard work begins now for the UK

"PACAC is deeply concerned about these allegations about foreign interference," said the report said, although the committee added that it did not believe that any interference would have had an impact on the outcome of the Brexit vote.

Nevertheless, it called on the government to ensure that all future elections and plebiscites had the necessary contingency in place to "respond to and contain any cyber attacks."

While the report refuses to identify who may have been responsible for such an attack, the findings repeatedly reference claims of Russian interference in the US and French presidential elections. 

It also explains how Russian and Chinese cyber-hacking techniques "use a cognitive approach based on understanding of mass psychology and of how to exploit individuals."

In the US, the FBI and CIA intelligence agencies blamed the Russian government for trying to influence the American election in Republican Donald Trump's favor by promoting unfavorable coverage of Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Both the FBI and the US House of Congress have launched probes investigating evidence of Russian interference and possible links between the Trump campaign team and Russian officials.

The party chief for the independent candidate in France's presidential election, Emmanuel Macron, said the current front-runner had been targeted by a misinformation campaign and hacker attacks.

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CCTV surveillance cameras hacked in DC

Two people were arrested in Britain on Saturday after allegedly attempting to hack the Washington DC CCTV surveillance camera system just days before President Donald Trump's inauguration. US media said 123 out of almost 200 cameras throughout the city were disabled by ransomware software. Officials feared a bigger attack may have been planned for the day of Trump's swearing in.

Why it seems like everyone's being hacked

Fears over Dutch election hack

The Netherlands said it will count ballots from its election on March 15 by hand after fears its vote counting software is vulnerable to hacking. Several Dutch ministries and even the prime minister's office have been targeted by Russian and other hackers. The rise of anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders (pictured) has piled pressure on mainstream parties in the upcoming vote.

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Norway's state institutions targeted

Norway said Russian-based hackers have attempted to break into email accounts linked to the domestic intelligence agency. None of the accounts, used by the Foreign Ministry, the military, a university, the nuclear watchdog and the opposition Labour party, were used for classified information. A probe has begun into whether the group known as APT29 - also known as Cozy Bear - was responsible.

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Anti-Trump song forced onto US radio stations

Several US radio stations in South Carolina, Indiana, Texas, Tennessee, and Kentucky have been hacked by anti-Trump activists, the Verge reported. Instead of the stations' usual music format, an unstoppable audio loop of YG and Nipsey Hussle’s hip hop track "F**k Donald Trump" played out. It apparently took the stations several hours to fix the problem.

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Czech minister's emails intercepted

The Czech Republic's foreign minister has confirmed that his own email account - and those of colleagues in the Foreign Ministry - have been hacked. news site reported "thousands of files" were retrieved, but the Foreign Ministry has denied classified information was obtained. Russia has not been blamed publicly, but, privately, officials are pointing the finger at the Kremlin.

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Hotel targeted by ransomware hackers

An Austrian luxury hotel is to replace its electronic room cards with old fashioned keys after blackmail-hungry hackers gained access to its locking system. The Romantik Seehotel Jaegerwirt in the Austrian Alps says it's been repeatedly targeted. In one incident, the owners had to pay 1,500 euros to ransom software hackers to get the room cards working again.

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Becks' email breach?

David Beckham has blamed a hacked email account after British media alleged he sent a string of foul-mouthed private emails over his failure to be named Sir David by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. The Football Leaks website claims the soccer star was frustrated that he wasn't given a knighthood and dismissed a lesser award known as the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

UK government badly prepared for Brexit outcome

The PACAC committee was also critical of the UK government's response to the referendum outcome, finding that "There was no proper planning for a Leave vote so the EU referendum opened up much new controversy and left the prime minister's (David Cameron) credibility destroyed."

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Ministers broached whether Cameron's motivation for calling the referendum was a "bluff call" intended to shut down "unwelcome debate" on the UK's European Union membership - a bluff that obviously backfired.

Cameron campaigned to remain within the EU, despite facing major opposition within his own party. He resigned from his post after losing the vote.

dm/rt (Reuters)