Russian agents may have hacked former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s personal phone during her summer leadership challenge that led to her taking on the role of prime minister, according to reports.
The agents, suspected of working under the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin, may have had access to top secret negotiations with key international allies and personal messages between Truss and his future Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng.
A UK government spokesman told Fox News Digital that although the government does not comment on individual security arrangements, “the government has strong systems in place to protect against cyber threats,” including “regular security briefings for ministers and advice on the protection of their personal data. ”
The government reportedly learned of the hack over the summer, but then Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case hid details about the hack, the Daily Mail reported.
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Truss served as foreign minister before taking up the post of prime minister. She has been a prime point of contact for the UK’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, famously blaming Putin directly for the emerging global energy and food crisis.
Rebekah Koffler, president of Doctrine & Strategy Consulting and former DIA intelligence officer, told Fox News Digital that it would not be a surprise that Russia could target Truss and unsurprisingly they would.
“It is standard operating procedure for Russian intelligence agents to try to intercept communications from important foreign leaders that are high-value targets to them,” Koffler said. “The goal is to exfiltrate information or embarrass a foreign official by leaking hacked content, if the Russians find anything juicy in terms of personal data.”
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Koffler mentioned previous cases in which Russia was able to show off its hacking skills, such as when the Russians posted a recording of a phone call they intercepted between the US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt and the ‘assistant to Secretary of State Victoria Nuland in which they made disparaging comments about the European Union. He also claimed that Russians freely read President Barack Obama’s unclassified emails.
“If you are a high-ranking official or business leader, your phone contains so much data – emails, pictures, voice messages – that it can be useful for hostile intelligence services,” explained Koffler. “Russians are very adept at hacking and are always on the lookout for valuable secrets or what they call” kompromat “- compromising information. Cyber hacking is a huge threat to government and business leaders, especially when traveling outside the country. their country of origin “.
One such message to Kwarteng included criticism of Johnson, which the government feared could turn into some form of blackmail.
Other messages may have included details on arms shipments to Ukraine.
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A source familiar with the alleged incident told The Mail that the initial revelation caused “absolute pandemonium”.
“It’s not good for intelligence services if the foreign minister’s phone can be so easily looted for embarrassing personal messages from agents allegedly working for Putin’s Russia,” the individual said. A year’s worth of messages may have been downloaded from Truss’s phone.
She may also have been so worried about the breach that she was unable to sleep during the time and feared that the novelty of the hack would undermine her campaign for the party leader.
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The US Department of Defense sent the comment back to the State Department, which did not respond by the time of publication.