UK Warns of Growing Chinese Cyber Threat Targeting Democracy, Economy

UK Warns of Growing Chinese Cyber Threat Targeting Democracy, Economy

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain warned on Monday of an escalating cyber threat from China, accusing Beijing of being behind a hack that exposed the data of millions of UK voters and targeting critical infrastructure, supply chains and democratic institutions with aggressive cyber operations.

The UK government directly blamed a Chinese state-backed group known as APT31 for the cyber attack that accessed data on some 40 million voters from the Electoral Commission last year. It said the same Beijing-affiliated actors had also targeted the email accounts of several British parliamentarians critical of China.

The accusations underscore rising tensions between the UK and China over cyber intrusions that London said threaten the country’s democratic freedoms, economy and national security interests. An integrated defense review last year had flagged the need to protect against such Chinese state attacks.

“The Chinese are involved in the full gamut of cyber operations,” Don Smith, cybersecurity expert at Secureworks, told Reuters. “From traditional espionage to stealing trade secrets and targeting enemies of the Chinese state.”

Read More: Manchester Airport Offers Travel Tips as Easter Holiday Rush Looms

Beyond democratic processes, the UK review highlighted risks to critical infrastructure, supply chains and the economy from Beijing’s “highly capable” cyber capabilities and legion of intelligence operatives.

The US deputy attorney general said China aimed to “repress critics, compromise institutions and steal trade secrets” in a global hacking campaign. Seven alleged Chinese hackers were charged on Monday in a joint US-UK action.

While voter data alone may not gravely undermine elections, experts warned it could be leveraged by combining it with other sources to narrowly target swing voters, aided by advances in artificial intelligence.

“When you combine it with information elsewhere, you can target specific individuals or groups,” said Alan Woodward, a cybersecurity professor.

As the world heads into a year of elections, observers cautioned the escalating threat could increase misinformation and sow disruption unless firmly confronted.

“The UK will not hesitate to take robust actions wherever the Chinese government threatens our interests,” Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden vowed in the wake of the latest cyber intrusions.

Contact Detail

For Security Contact Us!

Share Post: