MI5 website hack overhyped by Daily Express

Apologies dear Clu-blog readers, as I’ve let you down.

Earlier today I blogged about an “exclusive” report in The Daily Express newspaper claiming that MI5’s website had been compromised by hackers. (You can read that original blog post here).

Lucian Constantin, a news editor with Softpedia, has been in touch to shed some light on the story. It turns out that the Daily Express’s story is both not an exclusive, and also not accurate.

Softpedia, for instance, reported on how hackers had demonstrated a proof-of-concept XSS attack on MI5’s website over a week ago.

Sign up to our free newsletter.
Security news, advice, and tips.

MI5 website demonstrating XSS vulnerability

What appears to have actually happened then is that a cross-site scripting weakness was found on MI5’s website by Team Elite, who claim they informed the administrators of the website in advance.

So, Lucian suggests (and I agree with him), it appears that The Daily Express heard about the MI5 website flaw and then presented possible ways that the flaw could be exploited by hackers as fact.

Obviously it’s not a good thing to have a XSS flaw on your website, but that’s far removed from the Daily Express story which suggests that hackers had been able to steal information from site visitors or installed malware.

Thanks to Lucian for his help in getting to the bottom of this story.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

What do you think? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.