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Russia and China accused of carrying out ‘sophisticated’ cyber-attack on UK defence body

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An alleged cyber attack on UK’s Defence Academy has had a “significant” impact, Air Marshal Edward Stringer claimed. The Air Marshal, who has since retired, said the hack on the MOD’s Defence Academy happened in March 2021. He claimed it had “consequences for operations”.

Speaking to Sky News he said: “The consequences for the operations were significant, but then manageable.

“But only manageable because your people work incredibly hard to keep things going and find backup methodologies.”

He added that MoD IT staff had to “find back-up ways to use regular internet, etc, etc”.

This was in order “to keep the courses going, which we managed to do, but not as slickly as previously, that would be fair”.

He added that the hackers had tried to use the Defence Academy as a “backdoor” to penetrate much more secret parts of the MOD’s IT systems.

Air Marshal Stringer was then asked if the hacks had been successful.

He said: “No, I was quite confident that there hadn’t been any other breaches beyond the Defence Academy.”

The Defence Academy is based in Shrivenham, Oxfordshire, and teaches thousands of British and overseas military officers every year.

Air Marshal Stringer added: “It doesn’t look like a violent attack, but there were costs.

“There were costs to operational output.

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“There were opportunity costs in what our staff could have been doing when they were having to repair this damage.

“And what could we be spending the money on that we’ve had to bring forward to rebuild the network?

“There are no bodies in the streets, but there’s still been some damage done.”

Air Marshal Stringer suggested that states like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea have the capability to launch a hack such as the one carried out in March.

These hacks are seen as a grey zone of harm that remain under the threshold of open war.

Air Marshal Stringer said: “It could be any of those or it could just be someone trying to find a vulnerability for a ransomware attack that was just, you know, a genuine criminal organisation.”

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