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MP raises security alert after emails theft

February 8, 2023

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A Scottish National Party (SNP) MP has raised a major security alert by revealing his emails have been stolen and he fears they will be published.

Stewart McDonald claimed the hack happened last month and he suspects the group responsible may be linked to Russia’s spy services.

McDonald, the member for Glasgow south, was alerted to the problem when he received a notification, apparently from a member of his support staff, on his phone as he walked down the street.

It said there was a password protected message update on the conflict in Ukraine, on which he has been a spokesman until last year.

When he opened the document, he had already allowed a hacking group linked to Russia’s intelligence services had accessed his account.

The BBC reported that the MP subsequently discovered the orignal message had not come from an aide, who had been frozen out of the account.

McDonald contacted the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

The BBC reported: “The NCSC was already preparing to issue an advisory about a hacking group, known as Seaborgium saying it was responsible for a highly targeted campaign against individuals including politicians, activists and journalists.

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“That advisory tallies closely with what Mr McDonald experienced – the compromise of individuals, like his staff member, so they can in turn be used to send emails to the primary target.”

The MP decided to go public to warn others.

He said: “If it is indeed a malicious state-backed group, then, in line with what I’ve seen elsewhere, I expect them to dump some of the information online.

“And I can expect them to manipulate and fake some of that content and I want to get out ahead of that to ensure any disinformation attack against me is discredited before it’s even published.”

The NCSC said: “An incident has been reported to us and we are providing the individual with support.

“The NCSC regularly provides security briefings and guidance to parliamentarians to help them defend against the latest cyber threats. This includes expert advice for MPs and their staff available on the NCSC website.”

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