Data of military personnel breached in China cyberattack on MoD, reports claim

The latest in a growing line of cyber incidents has been pinned on Beijing, with defence secretary Grant Shapps to speak this afternoon as fellow parliamentarians warn of ‘systemic threat’

The Chinese state was behind a cyberattack on the Ministry of Defence that allegedly accessed sensitive details of serving military personnel, according to reports.

The attack was targeted at a third-party payroll software system used by the ministry, according to a story published by Sky News. The breach is reported to have affected the names and bank details of servicewomen and men.

The incursion was discovered several days ago and, since then, the MoD has been investigating the severity and impact of the attack. Defence secretary Grant Shapps is to address the House of Commons this afternoon on the issue, including details of plans to support individuals affected by the incident.

Government has yet to formally attribute the attack, and representatives of Beijing have responded to label the reports as “fabricated and malicious slanders”.

Related content

The statement is a near-exact replica of that issued by the Chinese embassy following claims made in March by deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden that China had led “malicious cyber campaigns” which compromised personal data on millions of UK voters, as well as attempting to spy on individual MPs and peers.

Those attacks and the newly reported MoD hack join a growing list of offensive cyber activity aimed at UK targets and attributed to China.

According to Tobias Ellwood – a former Army officer, as well as minister for veterans and chair of parliament’s Defence Committee – the attack on the MoD may have been trying to identify “the financially vulnerable with a view that they may be coerced in exchange for cash”.

Labour’s shadow defence secretary John Healey said that that there are “so many serious questions for the defence Secretary on this, especially from forces personnel whose details were targeted, [and] any such hostile action is utterly unacceptable”.

Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith – a long-time and vociferous critic of the Beijing regime – said: “ This is yet another example of why the UK government must admit that China poses a systemic threat to the UK and change the integrated review to reflect that. No more pretence, China is a malign actor, supporting Russia with money and military equipment, working with Iran and North Korea in a new axis of totalitarian states.”

Sam Trendall

Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Subscribe to our newsletter