Home China accused of hacking the UK Ministry of Defence in massive data breach

China accused of hacking the UK Ministry of Defence in massive data breach

The Chinese state has reportedly hacked the UK Ministry of Defence, with MPs receiving reports of a massive data breach.

Although a country has not officially been named as yet, Sky News reports that the perpetrator is believed to be China. MPs will be formally briefed later today on May 7 but as it stands, the Chinese state is thought to be accused of two or three attempts to attack Ministry of Defence (MoD) employees. The MoD is a department of British government that implements defence policy, made up of a combination of admin and military personnel.

The data under attack appears to stem from the payroll system, which contains personal information of current MoD personnel and some veterans. Sky News reports that the main types of data affected are thought to be named and bank details. The news outlet asserted that all salaries will still be paid this month.

What’s more, the BBC reported on May 7 that the hacked system was managed by an external contractor, meaning that no operational MoD data is believed to have been obtained. The contractor system has since been taken down, with a review launched into how the attack took place.

How has China responded to the Ministry of Defence hacking accusations?

China’s foreign ministry stated that it “firmly opposes and fights all forms of cyber attacks” and “rejects the use of this issue politically to smear other countries”.

The reasoning behind the attack could be related to attempting to coerce UK MoD employees, as suggested by Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood when speaking to Sky News, arguing that China “was probably looking at the financially vulnerable with a view that they may be coerced in exchange for cash”.

The UK government has not yet made a public statement on the situation but Defence Secretary Grant Shapps will make a statement to the Commons around lunchtime on May 7, with the BBC stating he will set out a “multi-point plan” which will include action to protect affected service men and women.

This wouldn’t be the first time that China has been accused of hacking Western countries, with millions of Americans thought to be affected by a hacking plot in March 2024.

Featured image: Harland Quarrington on Flickr, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 DEED

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Rachael Davies
Tech Journalist

Rachael Davies has spent six years reporting on tech and entertainment, writing for publications like the Evening Standard, Huffington Post, Dazed, and more. From niche topics like the latest gaming mods to consumer-faced guides on the latest tech, she puts her MA in Convergent Journalism to work, following avenues guided by a variety of interests. As well as writing, she also has experience in editing as the UK Editor of The Mary Sue , as well as speaking on the important of SEO in journalism at the Student Press Association National Conference. You can find her full portfolio over on…

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.