Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:21PM
The UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), aka the Doughnut, in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
The UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), aka the Doughnut, in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

British intelligence services have warned the country’s political parties to beef up their cyber security and protect themselves from hacking attacks by foreign countries such as Russia, according to a new report.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), which is part of the GCHQ spying agency, confirmed a report by the Sunday Times that it had advised the leaders of Labour, Tory and other parties to strengthen their network security.

According to the daily, NCSC head Ciaran Martin has sent a letter to the party bosses, offering to help them prevent cyber security breaches like the ones in the US and Germany.

"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," Martin said, according to the report.

“Attacks against our democratic processes go beyond (political parties) and can include attacks on parliament, constituency offices, think tanks and pressure groups and individuals’ email accounts,” it said.

NCSC confirmed to Reuters that it had written to parties on the matter, but refused to clarify whether the warning was aimed at Russia.

The reports come amid allegations by the US that Russia has been running an extensive campaign to influence the outcome of the elections in America and European countries.

Last year, when the presidential race between then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton had reached its peak, Democrats and the administration of then-president Barack Obama claimed that the Russians were behind a series of hacks aimed at disrupting Clinton’s campaign.

A combination file photo of former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton (L) and US President Donald Trump

The allegations continued after Trump’s victory, with American intelligence agencies warning European countries against similar interventions by Russia.

Earlier this month, France dropped plans to let its expatriates vote electronically in June’s legislative elections, out of fear for cyber attacks.

Russia 'capable' of hacking UK

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told ITV on Sunday that Russia was capable of undermining “our democratic processes.”

“We have no evidence that the Russians are actually involved in trying to undermine our democratic processes at the moment,” he said.

"But what we do have is plenty of evidence that the Russians are capable of doing that. And there is no doubt that they’ve been up to all sorts of dirty tricks," he added.