A Scottish Parliament spokesperson responded to the claims, saying: “We can see which countries across Europe and further afield the attack was routed through, but that doesn’t confirm the place of origin. We won’t list those countries through which the attack was routed, but we are liaising with the National Cyber Security Centre.”
China has been accused of orchestrating the recent cyber attack on the Scottish Parliament, according to the Sunday Herald. Senior figures in Holyrood told the paper that China was responsible for the ‘brute force’ hack that targeted hundreds of Holyrood email accounts by attempting to crack their passwords. No accounts were compromised during the breach, but MSP’s were unable to remotely access their emails for several days and were forced to update their passwords.
Cyber experts told the Herald that the attack was likely a ‘test’ conducted to find out more about foreign governments’ IT systems. Dr Omair Uthmani, Programme Leader of the Networking and Security degrees at Glasgow Caledonian University, said:
“It might simply be blind probing, to see how strong the defences are on a certain infrastructure. Certainly the fact [that the attack] has been detected is one way of saying ‘we probed the defences in one area, and we had a reaction, so that is probably not the way to do it the second time around’.”
Dr Daniel Dresner, a cyber security expert at Manchester University, added: “People will often carry out an attack as a bit of experimentation, to see how far they can get, or see what the reactions are. Or, carry out an attack on one part of the system, while they are infiltrating something else completely.”
With hundreds of thousands of cyber hackers at its command, China has emerged as a global hacking ‘superpower’ in recent years, responsible for a number of high-profile breaches against both governments and businesses.