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China behind audacious cyber attack on UK

February 8, 2011

Tibetan Review, 8 Feb 2011: British Foreign Secretary Mr William Hague has told an International Conference on Security Policy in Munich, Germany, on Feb 4 that his office had repelled an audacious attempt to penetrate the internal communications of his office in Jan’11. Guardian.co.uk Feb 4 cited Hague as saying the attack had come from “a hostile state intelligence agency”. While Mr Hague has refused to name the state, the report cited intelligence sources familiar with this and other similar incidents as saying he was clearly referring to China.
Mr Hague has said the January Foreign Office attack had come in the form of an email sent to three of his staff “which claimed to be about a forthcoming visit to the region and looked quite innocent”. “In fact it was from a hostile state intelligence agency and contained computer code embedded in the attached document that would have attacked their machine. Luckily, our systems identified it and stopped it from ever reaching my staff,” Hague was quoted as saying.

He has also said that in another attack in 2010, Britain’s defence industry was “deliberately” targeted. “A malicious file posing as a report on a nuclear Trident missile was sent to a defence contractor by someone masquerading as an employee of another defence contractor,” Hague was quoted as having told an audience of western officials and businessmen. “Security meant that the email was detected and blocked, but its purpose was undoubtedly to steal information relating to our most sensitive defence projects.”

Noting that international response to cyber attacks was “fragmented and lacks focus”, Hague has said Britain was offering to host an international conference this year aimed at establishing global standards. But he has admitted, “Many countries do not share our view of the positive impact of the internet, and others are actively working against us in a hostile manner.”

“However,” he has added, “as liberal democracies we also have a compelling interest in supporting democratic ideals in cyberspace, and working to convince others of this vision.”

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