HomeSecurity OperationsChina hacked Ministry of Defense contractor and breach went unreported for months

China hacked Ministry of Defense contractor and breach went unreported for months

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The recent Chinese hack targeting the UK Ministry of Defence has raised significant concerns as it was revealed that the IT company, Shared Services Connected Ltd (SSCL), failed to report the breach for several months. The breach compromised the payroll records of approximately 270,000 current and former military personnel, including their home addresses.

The UK defence secretary, Grant Shapps, addressed MPs and highlighted the seriousness of the situation, indicating that state involvement could not be ruled out in the cyberattack. While the Ministry of Defence was only recently informed of the hack, sources revealed that SSCL, a subsidiary of the French tech company Sopra Steria, was aware of the breach as early as February.

Sopra Steria did not respond to requests for comment, leading to further speculation and concerns about the company’s transparency and response to the cyber threat. The delay in reporting the breach has sparked an official inquiry into SSCL’s handling of the situation, with questions raised about the company’s slow response.

Moreover, it has emerged that SSCL was awarded a significant cybersecurity monitoring contract worth over £500,000 in April, just weeks after the breach occurred. Officials are now considering the possibility of revoking this contract due to the security implications and concerns surrounding SSCL’s actions.

The scope of the breach extends beyond just the compromised payroll data, as SSCL is involved in various other government services, with undisclosed cybersecurity contracts deemed highly sensitive and never publicly disclosed. These contracts, which include critical functions for government departments and agencies, are now under scrutiny following the recent breach.

The National Cyber Security Centre has warned of an increasing threat to the country’s businesses and critical infrastructure from hostile states, with both Chinese and Russian state-sponsored actors highlighted as potential perpetrators of cyberattacks. The lack of transparency and potential compromise of SSCL’s systems have raised alarms within Whitehall, prompting a thorough review of the company’s operations.

In response to the breach, the UK government has initiated a comprehensive review of SSCL’s work within the Ministry of Defence and across all government contracts. Forensic specialists have been brought in to conduct an investigation to determine the root cause of the breach and prevent future security lapses.

The Chinese embassy has denied any involvement in the hack, urging the UK to refrain from spreading false information and politicizing the issue. However, growing concerns about cybersecurity vulnerabilities and the need for stringent measures to safeguard sensitive government data have underscored the importance of addressing the broader implications of such cyber threats.

Overall, the recent breach targeting the Ministry of Defence highlights the critical need for robust cybersecurity measures and transparency in reporting and addressing cybersecurity incidents within government contractors. The fallout from this breach serves as a stark reminder of the ever-present cyber threats faced by governments and the importance of proactive security measures to safeguard sensitive information and national security.

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