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UK defence ministry targeted in cyberattack: govt

NNA - A senior British lawmaker said on Tuesday China was probably behind a massive cyberattack on the names and banking details of UK armed forces personnel, prompting a furious denial by Beijing.

MP and former minister Tobias Ellwood said a third-party payroll system used by the defence ministry was targeted, adding that it had the hallmarks of a Chinese operation.

"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,", the ex-soldier and former chairman of a parliamentary defence committee, told BBC radio.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps was due to give details of the data breach to parliament later on Tuesday.

Shapps's cabinet colleague Mel Stride confirmed there had been an attack on a system run by an outside firm but did not elaborate.

The leak is believed to have also included a small number of personal addresses of serving and former armed forces members.

Stride told Sky News television, which first reported the breach, that the defence ministry had acted "very swiftly" to take the database off line.

But the government was not currently pointing the finger at Beijing, he said.

"That is an assumption... We are not saying that at this precise moment," he added.

But he added that the government viewed Beijing's government as an "epoch-defining challenge".

"Our eyes are wide open when it comes to China," Stride said.--AFP

 

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