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China accused of ‘malign’ cyberattack on Electoral Commission ‘after hacking data of 40million voters’ | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


China has been accused of a “malign” cyberattack on Britain after it allegedly accessed millions of voters’ personal details during a hack on the election watchdog.

The UK is poised to sanction those believed to be involved in Chinese state-backed interference, after deputy prime minister Oliver Downden sets out details about the alleged incident later on Monday.

He is expected to tell Parliament that Beijing is behind a wave of cyberattacks on the Electoral Commission as well as against 43 MPs and peers, in a major hack which is reported to have begun in August 2021 but was not identified until October 2022.

Tory MPs will then recieve an address from foreign secretary David Cameron at the 1922 committee where he is expected to reference the growing threat.

The hackers are said to have accessed the names and addresses of anyone in Britain who was registered to vote between 2014 and 2022.

A senior government source told The Times: “This represents a malign attack on Britain’s democratic institutions. Part of our response to that is to call it out and attribute it in a very public way.”

In October last year, Lord Cameron came under fire from some Conservative backbenchers for his softer approach toward the Chinese regime after he spoke at two investment events linked to the country’s global infrastructure strategy.

David Cameron will address concerned Tory MPs at the 1922 committee

(PA Wire)

Former Conservative party leader Iain Duncan Smith called on Lord Cameron to “reconsider the position he’s taken on this”, after Politico reported that the former prime minister had flown to the Middle East in late September to speak at two events for Colombo Port City in Sri Lanka.

A small group of politicians who are hawkish on China are said to have been called to a briefing by parliament’s director of security, Alison Giles, in relation to the activity. They include Sir Iain, as well as former minister Tim Loughton, crossbench peer Lord Alton and SNP MP Stewart McDonald, the Sunday Times reported.

The four are members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) pressure group, which focuses on issues involving the increasingly assertive Asian power.

Some of those affected are understood to be preparing to jointly address the matter publicly on Monday.

The news comes after the UK was accused of “secretly” softening its policy on Chinese firms accused of human rights abuse.

The i newspaper revealed an internal Whitehall assessment which advised ministers that the government would be pausing its consideration of sanctions against Chinese firms amid fears about the UK’s reliance on Chinese infrastructure.

In August last year, the then foreign secretary James Cleverly was sent out to Beijing to try and boost investment into the U.K. from the economic superpower – describing Britain as “open for business” to Chinese companies.

James Cleverly visited Beijing last year to try and boost Chinese investment in the UK

(PA)

Rishi Sunak is now expected to face criticism from hawkish MPs who voiced concerns about the UK’s increasingly affable approach to Chinese relations.

A government spokeswoman refused to comment on Sunday.

Meanwhile, reforms of UK spying laws are continue to make their way through Parliament, with the Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill also in the Commons on Monday.

The legislation includes measures to make it easier for agencies to examine and retain bulk datasets, such as publicly available online telephone records.

Energy minister Andrew Bowie called the alleged electoral commission attack “disturbing”.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: “It is incredibly worrying, disturbing. I’m sure we’ll find out more details in the course of the day.

“I can’t say much more just now sitting here at this time in the morning, but I can tell you that every step will be taken to ensure that, moving forward, the safety and security of British people online and indeed physically is determined and you know it has been in the past as well. That’s why we’re taking the action that we have.”

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