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China accused of ‘malign attack’ after Electoral Commission hack

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The British government is set to accuse China of launching a “malign attack” on the country’s democratic institutions following a cyberattack on the Electoral Commission.

It is reported that the cyberattack lasted over a year, during which China accessed the personal details of 40 million voters, including their names and addresses, from the years 2014 to 2022.

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden is expected to address Parliament and announce that the security services have identified malicious cyberattacks originating from China, targeting various entities including the Electoral Commission. As a response, the UK is considering imposing sanctions on Chinese officials implicated in the attacks, similar to those already in place for individuals involved in human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

The cyberattack on the Electoral Commission, which began in August 2021 but was only identified in October 2022, allowed the Chinese to obtain copies of the electoral register containing voter information.

Senior government sources have described the attacks as “incredibly serious” and stressed the need to publicly attribute them to China. It is revealed that at least three Members of Parliament, including prominent figures like Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Tim Loughton, were targeted by the cyberattacks. The government suspects that potentially dozens of other individuals may have been victims as well.

Following Dowden’s statement, Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton is expected to address Conservative MPs and outline the government’s plans to counter Chinese cyberaggression. This comes amid criticism that the government has been too lenient towards Beijing.

The intelligence services view China’s attempts to interfere in British politics as part of a well-resourced long-term strategy. This revelation follows previous reports of a parliamentary researcher being arrested on suspicion of spying for China.

The government’s response to these allegations is seen as a significant step in addressing cybersecurity threats and deterring further hostile activities from foreign adversaries.

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