Parliament Hill in Ottawa
Parliament Hill in OttawaGetty

The Canadian Parliament launched its own IT security investigation after its British counterpart, the Palace of Westminster, faced an email hack in June.

Email accounts were also temporarily deactivated as part of "preventative measures", the head of communications for the Canadian House of Commons confirmed to IBTimes UK on Monday 17 July.

Canadian MPs and their aides had limited access to the House of Commons network in Ottawa between 4.00am and noon (local time) on 25 June, with "difficulties" experienced with email services, network drives and network services.

"Preventative steps were taken to maintain the security of IT services. The IT environment remains secure and the investigation is ongoing," an internal memo to the Parliament Hill community said.

Canadian House of Commons authorities would not confirm whether the actions were in response to the hack in the UK, which became public on 24 June.

The GCHQ's new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is working with the National Crime Agency (NCA), Britain's equivalent of the FBI, to investigate the Westminster hack.

But the UK House of Commons said fewer than 1% of parliamentary emails (or under 90 accounts) were compromised. Rob Greig, director of the Parliamentary Digital Service, also revealed to IBTimes UK that the hacker(s) were "well resourced".

"It would be naive to suggest that it was an amateur," he said.

"All I can say is this was a reasonably well resourced attempt and they were reasonably patient in terms of their attack."

Greig's 10-strong cybersecurity team also discovered that the hacker(s) had been probing the parliamentary IT systems as far back as 5 June in a bid to gather crucial information on what security protocols were in place.

"They specifically hit our user accounts at a rate which meant that it wouldn't trigger our protective monitoring alerts and wouldn't trigger our accounts to locked out," Greig said. "Script kiddies don't do that, they just hit you with everything they can in every backdoor that they can try."