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British military personnel targeted in cyber attack

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The personal details of UK military personnel have been targeted in a cyber attack by a hostile state, the British government is expected to announce on Tuesday.

The Chinese state is suspected of being behind the hack, according to Sky News, which affected a UK Ministry of Defence contractor’s IT system and was not linked to the MoD’s central network.

A person with knowledge of the matter confirmed the report about the cyber attack, discovered in recent days.

It affected an IT system containing the names and bank details of all serving regular military personnel and reservists, as well as several thousand veterans. A small number of individuals’ addresses was also on the system.

An initial investigation by the MoD has found no evidence that any information has been removed from the contractor’s IT system, but precautions are being taken in case it has.

Grant Shapps, defence secretary, is expected to make a statement about the hack to MPs on Tuesday.

He is set to confirm indications that a hostile state was the culprit, but the UK government is not expected to publicly name China.

The Cabinet Office, intelligence agencies and private security specialists have been called in to assist with the MoD investigation.

An external contractor has also been commissioned to monitor the internet in case any information has been successfully removed from the contractor’s IT system and is leaked online.

Monthly salary payments to military personnel will not be affected.

The personal details of UK special forces personnel are kept on a different IT system and have not been affected.

Members of the armed forces will be informed about the cyber attack on Tuesday, as the MoD seeks to reassure individuals potentially affected that their safety is not at risk.

The MoD will offer advice and welfare support, while setting up a call centre to deal with questions.

It comes after the US and UK in March unveiled sweeping measures against hackers backed by China’s government, alleging they carried out extensive cyber attacks against targets in Washington and London.

The MoD and the Chinese embassy in London have been contacted for comment.

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