Report: China suspected in cyberattack on UK defence ministry

LONDON: The names and bank details of thousands of serving British soldiers, sailors and air force members have been exposed in a data breach by a “malign actor” who may have had state help, defence officials said Tuesday. The ministry of defence said the breach occurred at a third-party payroll system holding bank details of as many as 272,000 serving armed forces personnel and recent veterans.In a few cases, addresses may also have been exposed.
Defence secretary Grant Shapps said officials had “immediately taken the system offline” and launched an investigation into the breach and possible failings by the contractor, SSCL, which describes itself as “the largest provider of critical business support services for govt.” “We cannot rule out state involvement,” Shapps told lawmakers in the House of Commons, though he said the govt did not yet have evidence to make that conclusion. Shapps did not confirm reports by Sky News and the BBC that Chinese hackers are suspected of carrying out the cyberattack. “For reasons of national security, we can’t release further details of the suspected cyber activity behind this incident,” he said.
Labour Party defence spokesman John Healey asked why “the media has clearly been briefed that China was behind” the attack if the govt wasn’t prepared to say so.
China’s ministry of foreign affairs, when asked about the reports, said it opposed all forms of cyberattacks and is against “the use of cybersecurity issues to smear other countries for political purposes deliberately.”


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