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Is China Behind the UK Defense Ministry Data Breach?

Daniel Kim Views  

EPA·Yonhap News

Amid increased crackdowns on spy incidents linked to China and Russia, allegations have emerged that Chinese-linked hackers have infiltrated the UK military’s payroll system.

The BBC and Sky News reported on the 7th (local time) that hackers related to China are suspected of infiltrating the payroll system, which contains the names and bank information of UK Army, Navy, and Air Force personnel.

Subsequently, according to reports from Reuters and others, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also suggested malicious actors may have compromised the UK military’s payroll system.

In detail, the UK Defense Secretary stated, “Military Pay System Data, Hacked,” and Sky News reported that China is behind this situation.

UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps revealed in the House of Commons that day that a data leak may have occurred from the military payroll system operated by a Ministry of Defense contractor, and disclosing information could affect up to 270,000 former and current service members.

Grant Shapps stated, “There are signs of spiteful activity, and we cannot rule out state involvement.” While Shapps did not mention any specific country, Sky News reported that the government supposes China plotted the incident. Sky News reported that the Chinese government is believed to be behind several hacking attempts, and this cyber attack targeted the payroll systems of active military personnel and some veterans.

However, Shapps stated in the initial investigation that there is no evidence that data has been moved.

AP·Yonhap News

During a visit to a soccer academy in London, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak informed reporters that there are signs that a malignant attacker has damaged the military’s payment network. The Ministry of Defense has already taken the network offline and is supporting those affected appropriately.

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian claimed at a regular briefing that day, “The remarks of UK politicians are absurd,” and “China firmly opposes all forms of cyber attacks and refuses to use this issue to defame other countries.”

The UK government’s announcement comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping is touring Europe for the first time in five years. On the second day of his state visit to France, Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan visited Col du Tourmalet in the Hautes-Pyrénées in southwestern France, where French President Emmanuel Macron often spent his childhood vacations. After France, President Xi will visit Serbia and Hungary.

AP·Yonhap News

German and Belgian Police Search Offices of European Parliament Member on Suspicion of Chinese Spying

Even in this situation, European countries are intensifying investigations into spy incidents linked to China and Russia before next month’s European Parliament elections.

German and Belgian police searched the 7th of the office of Maximilian Krah, a member of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, concerning allegations of Chinese spying.

Krah’s assistant, Jian Guo, was arrested on the 22nd of last month on charges of passing European Parliament internal information to Chinese intelligence agencies and surveilling anti-regime figures in Germany.

The Dresden Prosecutor’s Office in Germany has launched a preliminary investigation into allegations that Krah, who is running as the top candidate for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the European Parliament elections, received money from Russia and China in return for his duties as a member of the European Parliament.

German weekly Der Spiegel and public broadcaster ZDF reported that Krah was investigated by the FBI when he visited the United States in December last year on suspicion of receiving money from pro-Russian figures.

Earlier, the New York Times reported on the 27th of last month that a total of six people were charged with spying for China in three cases in the UK and Germany, and authorities in the Netherlands and Poland conducted searches on Chinese security equipment suppliers, indicating that European countries are intensifying their response to China’s political interference.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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