Hackers attempt to take down UK Labour Party’s web services ahead of election

Leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn delivers a speech in London. Britain's Labour Party said Tuesday Nov. 12, 2019. (AP)
Updated 12 November 2019

Hackers attempt to take down UK Labour Party’s web services ahead of election

  • Britain’s security agencies have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the election
  • The nature of such attacks often made it difficult to attribute responsibility to any particular group, a NCSC spokesman said

LONDON: Hackers attacked Britain’s opposition Labour Party, bombarding its web services with malicious traffic in an attempt to force them offline just weeks ahead of a national election, party and security officials said on Tuesday,
“We have experienced a sophisticated and large-scale cyberattack on Labour digital platforms,” Labour said in a statement. “We took swift action and these attempts failed due to our robust security systems.
The party was confident data breach occurred, it said.
Britain’s security agencies have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks or political messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the Dec. 12 election.
Moscow has repeatedly denied Western allegations of election interference and a person with knowledge of the matter said an initial investigation had found nothing to link the Labour Party attack to a foreign state.
Britain’s National Cyber Security Center, part of the GCHQ signals intelligence agency, said the attack was a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack — a technique used by hackers to take down websites by overwhelming them with malicious traffic.
“DDoS attacks are a common form of attack used by a very wide range of attackers. Mitigation techniques are available and worked in this case,” a NCSC spokesman said.
The nature of such attacks often made it difficult to attribute responsibility to any particular group, he said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the attack was very serious but was successfully repelled by the party’s defense systems when the digital assault began on Monday.
“But if this is a sign of things to come in this election, I feel very nervous about it all,” he said. “Because a cyberattack against a political party in an election is suspicious and something one is very worried about.”
A Labour spokesman said that while the attack had slowed down some campaign activity, they were restored on Tuesday.
The person with knowledge of the matter said any Labour Party web services currently offline were not directly connected to the attack.
Britain goes to the polls on Dec. 12 in an election called by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to try to break the Brexit deadlock in parliament more than three years since the country voted to leave the European Union.
A report by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has investigated Russian activity in British politics and reportedly includes charges of spying and interference in polls, including the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2017 national election.
The government, however, has declined to publish it before the upcoming election.


Power of good: Pakistani father trains daughters to be electricians in Karachi

Updated 01 October 2020

Power of good: Pakistani father trains daughters to be electricians in Karachi

  • Naseeb Jamal: If girls are to believe in themselves, they should not be confined to the home

KARACHI: At a small shop in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi, two young girls are bent over a workstation, repairing wires and battery chargers.

Despite all odds, Naseeb Jamal, an electrician for 20 years, has taught six of his eight daughters his craft to help them become self-reliant in the future.  

“When I had four daughters, it came to my mind: Why shouldn’t I give them an education?” Jamal, who moved to Karachi from the Tor Ghar area in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told Arab News. 

“I couldn’t give them that chance due to a shortage of financial resources, but I thought at least I could teach them skills.”

While two of Jamal’s younger daughters are still learning, four are already adept electricians and their father’s pride. 

“My daughters are making a name for themselves in society and for women in Pakistan,” he said. 

Jamal lives with his family near the spot where gunmen killed Abdul Waheed Khan, a social worker who ran a coeducational school in Qasba Colony, in 2013. Khan dreamed of bringing modern education to the slums of Karachi, whose many inhabitants, like Jamal, migrated there from northern Pakistan to escape militant violence and look for better job opportunities.

Those who challenge social taboos face opposition and receive little support, Jamal said. “Waheed Khan sacrificed his life for the sake of educating our children.”

Conservative neighbors and family members have opposed his attempts to empower his daughters.

“When you give your child a skill or education, some people in the family will oppose it. But you don’t need to give heed to them,” he said.

As a father, Jamal wants to at least give his daughters the chance to stand on their own feet, he said. 

Two of them are already married and happy, he said, which he attributes in part to their empowering upbringing. “I will oversee the future of my children. I will give them skills and make them useful for the country and for themselves. It will give them confidence and make them stronger.”

The girls, who attended regular school before the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic shut down campuses across Pakistan, also help Jamal run his business.

“I do solar lamp installations, and when I am out of home or out of city, I don’t have to worry about the shop,” he said. “After coming back from school, they open the shop and even if I am away for three days, they take care of it, as well as the home.”

One of Jamal’s younger daughters, 10-year-old Javeriah, said she found the work “a little difficult” at first but has since gotten the hang of it. 

“I learned it from my father,” she said with a smile as she handed a repaired battery charger to a customer. “I fix lights, I fix speakers, and I can fix battery chargers.”

Jamal believes that girls should not be kept confined to their homes: “If you want girls to trust and believe in themselves, you have to bring them out of the home. And you have to trust them.”