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China accused of hacking the UK Ministry of Defence in massive data breach | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


The Chinese state has reportedly hacked the UK Ministry of Defence, with MPs receiving reports of a massive data breach.

Although a country has not officially been named as yet, Sky News reports that the perpetrator is believed to be China. MPs will be formally briefed later today on May 7 but as it stands, the Chinese state is thought to be accused of two or three attempts to attack Ministry of Defence (MoD) employees. The MoD is a department of British government that implements defence policy, made up of a combination of admin and military personnel.

The data under attack appears to stem from the payroll system, which contains personal information of current MoD personnel and some veterans. Sky News reports that the main types of data affected are thought to be named and bank details. The news outlet asserted that all salaries will still be paid this month.

What’s more, the BBC reported on May 7 that the hacked system was managed by an external contractor, meaning that no operational MoD data is believed to have been obtained. The contractor system has since been taken down, with a review launched into how the attack took place.

How has China responded to the Ministry of Defence hacking accusations?

China’s foreign ministry stated that it “firmly opposes and fights all forms of cyber attacks” and “rejects the use of this issue politically to smear other countries”.

The reasoning behind the attack could be related to attempting to coerce UK MoD employees, as suggested by Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood when speaking to Sky News, arguing that China “was probably looking at the financially vulnerable with a view that they may be coerced in exchange for cash”.

The UK government has not yet made a public statement on the situation but Defence Secretary Grant Shapps will make a statement to the Commons around lunchtime on May 7, with the BBC stating he will set out a “multi-point plan” which will include action to protect affected service men and women.

This wouldn’t be the first time that China has been accused of hacking Western countries, with millions of Americans thought to be affected by a hacking plot in March 2024.

Featured image: Harland Quarrington on Flickr, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 DEED

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