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Brexit referendum site may have been hacked

Brexit referendum site may have been hacked
Foreign hackers may have attacked the voter registration website for the Brexit referendum in June last year, a group of British MPs said on Wednesday.

The website had crashed on registration deadline day, June 7, weeks before the referendum on Britain's membership of the 28-nation bloc European Union (EU) on June 23.

At the time, the UK government had attributed the crash to high demand and extended the registration deadline.

However, MPs on the House of Commons Public Administration Committee said in a report today that a foreign cyber-attack could not be ruled out. The report did not name the countries that may have been responsible for the crash. "We do not rule out the possibility that there was foreign interference in the EU referendum caused by a DDOS (distributed denial of service attack) using botnets, though we do not believe that any such interference had any material effect on the outcome of the EU referendum," the report said.

"Lessons in respect of the protection and resilience against possible foreign interference in IT systems that are critical for the functioning of the democratic process must extend beyond the technical," it said. The UK Cabinet Office, which ran the website, stressed that it did not suspect any "malign intervention".

"We have been very clear about the cause of the website outage in June 2016. It was due to a spike in users just before the registration deadline. There is no evidence to suggest malign intervention. We conducted a full review into the outage and have applied the lessons learned. We will ensure these are applied for all future polls and online services," a Cabinet Office statement said.

According to evidence submitted to the committee from the Association of Electoral Administrators, the electoral registration system "could not cope with the demand... and any contingency measures were wholly inadequate". The committee called on the government to set up a new Cyber Security Centre to monitor and contain potential attacks on UK elections and referendums, particularly foreign attempts to influence public opinion and disrupt the democratic process.
Agencies

Agencies

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