Russian hackers ‘stole classified files from UK minister’s email’
RUSSIAN hackers stole classified documents from the email account of a British cabinet minister before they were used by Jeremy Corbyn to attack the government, it was claimed last night.
Dr Liam Fox, the former international trade secretary, was the victim of what appears to have been a “state-backed” operation ahead of last year’s general election, sources said.
The reports prompted a review of government security last night as ministers and MPs were reminded of the need to follow rules set out by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ.
If the claims – which are currently the subject of a police
According to a report by Reuters, Russian hackers accessed Dr Fox’s account multiple times between July 12 and October 21 last year.
It is unclear which of Dr Fox’s email accounts was hacked and when it was first compromised, or whether the successful attempt to access his email happened before or after he lost his role as international trade secretary in Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle on July 24 last year.
The report comes amid increasing tensions between
London and Moscow, with the relationship deteriorating since the Salisbury Novichok poisonings of 2018.
Last month a report into Russian interference in democracy by the UK parliament’s intelligence and security committee concluded that Russia had attempted to influence the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum in 2014.
The UK government also announced last month that a group of hackers linked to Russian intelligence had tried to steal details of Britain’s research into a coronavirus vaccine.
Dr Fox’s email account was reportedly hacked using a so-called “spear phishing” message, which tricks the target into handing over their password and login details.
Sources said it was not clear if the hackers who stole the trade documents were the same people who later leaked them online. Previous reports had suggested it was one of Dr Fox’s advisers who was the victim of the hack.
Dr Fox, who is Britain’s nominee for the post of director-general of the World Trade Organisation, was not available for comment last night.
However, a spokesman for the UK Cabinet Office said: “There is an ongoing criminal investigation into how the documents were acquired, and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this point. But as you would expect, the government has very robust systems in place.” (© Daily Telegraph London)
investigation – are proven, it would be the first time a current or former British minister had been successfully targeted by Russian hackers. Last month Dominic Raab, the UK foreign secretary, announced that “Russian actors” had sought to interfere in the December election “through the online amplification of illicitly acquired and leaked government documents”. He was referring to stolen details of US-UK trade negotiations, which were published online and used by then Labour leader Mr Corbyn to claim the NHS was being put up for sale. Mr Raab stopped short of saying who he believed had stolen the documents in the first place and how they were obtained. Target: Former UK trade secretary Dr Liam Fox fell victim to ‘phishing’