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China Suspected Of Hacking The UK’s Defence Ministry Payroll

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The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD)  has suffered a major cyber-attack for which some officials are blaming China. The hack has ensured a data breach and enabled access to the personal information of senior members of the British military. This has ensured that the names and bank details of those serving in the Royal Navy, Army, and Royal Air Force may be at risk.

Though London has not officially named the suspect, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak only going as far as to say that a “malign actor” was involved, British officials have stated that their suspicions point towards China. Tobias Ellwood, an ex-soldier and former chairman of a parliamentary defense committee, said the attack had targeted a third-party payroll system used by the Defense Ministry. The former minister said it had all the hallmarks of a Chinese cyberattack.

“Targeting the names of the payroll system and service personnel’s bank details, this does point to China because it can be as part of a plan, a strategy to see who might be coerced,” Ellwood told the BBC.

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Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said Beijing opposed all forms of cyber-attacks and rejected any attempt to use cybersecurity issues to smear other countries. “The relevant remarks from UK politicians are absurd,” he said in response to the British accusations.

London and Beijing have sparred in the past over cyber-attacks that have allegedly come from China. Between August 2021 and October 2022, there was an attack on the UK’s Electoral Commission. In March this year, the UK government formally accused China of being behind what it called “malicious” cyber campaigns against MPs and the Electoral Commission. Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden had accused Beijing of seeking to hack personal information of MPs critical of China and the data of voters. China angrily denied the allegations.

(With inputs from Reuters & other agencies)