Written by Sean Lyngaas
A candidate for office from the United Kingdom’s Labour Party says Russian hackers sent him a malware-laced email in what he deemed a “sophisticated” attack.
Ben Bradshaw, who has spoken up about Russian interference in British politics, revealed Tuesday that he had received a suspicious email purporting to be from a Russian whistleblower.
Cyber & security experts I consulted found a mysterious email I received from a Kremlin “whistleblower” last week contained sophisticated malware. Reported to the @NCSC. Still waiting for publication of that #RussiaReport, Johnson. #ReleaseTheRussianReport https://t.co/U3O3Bdp38l
— Ben Bradshaw (@BenPBradshaw) December 3, 2019
The email included a ruse that used the signature of a Russian envoy and PowerPoint slide purportedly produced by Russia’s FSB intelligence agency, The Guardian reported.
Bradshaw did not immediately respond to CyberScoop’s request for him to elaborate on the incident. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), one of the UK’s main cybersecurity agencies, is investigating the matter, it told The Guardian.
Aric Toler, a researcher at Bellingcat, a publication that has investigated Kremlin spying operations, said his organization also received a suspicious email from the same ProtonMail account that tried to phish Bradshaw.
— Aric Toler (@AricToler) December 3, 2019
The owner of the ProtonMail account did not immediately respond to CyberScoop’s request for comment.
As a sitting member of British parliament, Bradshaw has accused Russia of influencing the 2016 UK vote to leave the European Union. Bradshaw and other UK lawmakers have also accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of suppressing the release of a parliamentary report on Russian interference in British politics.
For their part, UK security officials have spoken in pointed terms about the cyberthreat from Russia. The NCSC last month called out a Russian hacking group by name, and has previously labeled Russian military activity in cyberspace “reckless.”
The recent leaking and dissemination of sensitive documents related to U.S.-UK trade talks again highlighted the prospect of foreign interference in British politics. A report published Monday by Graphika, a company that studies disinformation, said the leaking resembled a previous Russian disinformation operation.
The attempting phishing of Bradshaw is at least the second significant cybersecurity incident in a month related to British politics as voters prepare to cast their ballots on Dec. 12. The Labour Party itself said last month that it had repelled a large distributed denial-of-service attack on the party’s digital platforms.
The UK general election, which will pit the incumbent Conservative Party against Labour and other parties, is effectively a referendum on how British leaders have managed the country’s pending departure from the European Union.