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UK blames China for 'malicious' cyber attack on election data

UK blames China for 'malicious' cyber attack on election data

Since then, the Electoral Commission has taken steps to protect its systems. (representational image)


The United Kingdom on Monday accused China's state-affiliated cyber organizations of carrying out at least two “malicious” and “reprehensible” cyber campaigns targeting the data of British voters and parliamentarians.

In a statement to the House of Commons, the government revealed that the UK's National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC), part of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had concluded that the country's Electoral Commission systems were “highly likely” to have been compromised by an attack. Chinese. The entity between 2021 and 2022.

The NCSC also claims that it is “almost certain” that the Chinese state group APT31 carried out reconnaissance activities against British MPs during a separate campaign in 2021. All of these attacks to interfere in democracy and politics in the UK were not successful, but they led to punishment. Two people and a company associated with APT31.

“The UK will not tolerate malicious cyber activity that targets our democratic institutions. Protecting our democratic system and values ​​is an absolute priority for the UK Government,” said Oliver Dowden, UK Deputy Prime Minister.

“I hope this statement helps raise awareness of how politicians and people participating in our democratic processes around the world are targeted by state-sponsored cyber operations. We will continue to advocate for this activity, and hold the Chinese government accountable for its actions.”

Dowden told the House of Commons that the malicious cyber activity had no impact on electoral processes and did not affect UK voters' rights, access to the democratic process or the electoral register. Since then, the Electoral Commission has taken steps to protect its systems from similar activities in the future.

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“It is completely unacceptable for Chinese state organizations and individuals to target our democratic institutions and political processes. Foreign Secretary David Cameron said: “Although these attempts to interfere in the UK’s democracy have not been successful, we will remain vigilant and steadfast in the face of threats… “We face it.”

“One of the reasons it is important to make this statement is so that other countries should see the details of the threats our systems and democracies face,” he said.

The majority of UK MPs targeted include those who condemn China's malign activity, but the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said no parliamentary accounts had been successfully hacked.

“It is unfortunate that China is seeking to target our democratic institutions. Chinese espionage attempts have not given them the results they desired, and our new national security law makes the UK an even more difficult target,” Home Secretary James Cleverley said.

“Our upcoming elections, at the local and national levels, are strong and secure. Democracy and the rule of law are fundamental to the United Kingdom. He said that targeting our elected representatives and electoral processes will not pass without any objection.

The UK's statement will be supported by allies in the Five Eyes alliance, which includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. The British government said the international community called on the Chinese government to demonstrate its credibility as a responsible cyber player, and welcomed expressions of solidarity from across the Indo-Pacific region and Europe.

Through the Defense of Democracy and Homeland Security Act Working Group, the National Cyber ​​Security Center has also published guidance on its website to help high-risk individuals, including parliamentarians, strengthen their resilience to cyber threats, as well as tips to help organizations improve their security. .

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The UK Electoral Act 2022 also clarified the offense of undue influence, which it claims will better protect voters from improper influence to vote a certain way or not to vote, including activities that mislead a voter about the administration of an election or referendum. These election offenses fall under the statutory security duties imposed by the Online Security Act, requiring online platforms to quickly remove such content when alerted to it.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)