SNP MP Stewart McDonald has said he fears falling victim to a “disinformation attack” as he claimed his personal email account was hacked by Russia.
The Glasgow South MP told the BBC he was the target of a phishing attack on January 13, in the form of a password-protected attachment sent in a real email account to a member of his staff, allegedly about Ukraine.
After clicking the link and entering his credentials, he was redirected to a blank page, the MP said, and when he asked the clerk about it, he replied: “I didn’t send an email.”
A few days later, the same member of staff informed Mr McDonald that he had lost access to his personal email account due to suspicious activity – and that he had never sent him the login page email.
Mr McDonald, a former defense spokesman for his party and someone with a keen interest in Russia, said he is concerned about what may be done with personal emails that may have been taken from his account.
“If it is indeed a malicious, state-backed group then, in line with what I’ve seen elsewhere, I expect they will dump some of the information online,” he told the BBC.
“I can expect them to manipulate and falsify some of that content and I want to be ahead of that to make sure any disinformation attack against me is discredited before it is even published.
“It can trap people, even those facing these threats.”
Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland on Wednesday, Mr McDonald said he wanted to “raise awareness of the threat”.
He added: “This is a long-planned phishing campaign against me. I know it was directed at others as well.
“Unfortunately, the hackers also managed to breach the private email address of one of my employees, so I would encourage all your listeners to read the National Security Cyber Center’s guidance on spear phishing.
“These are more advanced than the common phishing emails we’ve all probably received and will ensure you don’t fall victim to them.
“It’s a very unpleasant experience.”
The incident came weeks after an advisory was issued by the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), a wing of the intelligence agency GCHQ, that warned of “spear-phishing attacks” – those targeting specific people who are custom using created content is more likely to mislead – from actors in Russia and Iran.
The advisory did not explicitly state that the groups – known as Seaborgium and TA453 – were supported by any government.
A spokesperson for the NCSC said: “An incident has been reported to us and we are providing support to the person.
“The NCSC regularly provides security briefings and guidance to MPs to help them defend themselves against the latest cyber threats. This includes expert advice for MPs and their staff available on the NCSC website.”