Cyber security summit to be held over fears Russia could hack UK election

Alan McGuinness, News Reporter

GCHQ has written to the leaders of Britain's political parties warning them about the threat of Russian hacking at the next election.

A senior Government source has confirmed to Sky News a cyber security summit will also be held to discuss fears of interference from Moscow.

Spy chiefs are worried Russian hackers could steal and leak internal emails or publish private databases of voters' political views, according to the Sunday Times.

The National Cyber Security Centre, which is part of GCHQ, offered in the letter to help strengthen the parties' security systems, the newspaper said.

"You will be aware of the coverage of events in the United States, Germany and elsewhere reminding us of the potential for hostile action against the UK political system," the letter from chief executive Ciaran Martin reportedly stated.

"This is not just about the network security of political parties' own systems.

"Attacks against our democratic processes go beyond this and can include attacks on parliament, constituency offices, think tanks and pressure groups and individuals' email accounts."

A security source at GCHQ told the Sunday Times the intelligence unit regards protecting the system from foreign hackers to be "priority work".

Fears over potential Russian interference have heightened in recent months, amid allegations of meddling in the electoral processes of a number of countries.

US spy chiefs have accused Moscow of trying to influence November's presidential election in an effort to boost Donald Trump's chances of beating Hillary Clinton.

In December, Germany's domestic intelligence agency claimed Russia was trying to destabilise the country with propaganda and cyber attacks ahead of its general election later this year.

And an aide to French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron recently told Sky News the candidate is being targeted by Moscow in a parallel campaign of hacking and fake news.

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