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‘2021 cyberattack on UK Defence Academy had significant impact on operations’

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Jan 03, 2022 - 01:33 AM

LONDON (AA) – A cyberattack on the UK’s Defence Academy last March had a “significant” impact on its operations, a senior retired military officer said on Sunday.

Retired Air Marshal Edward Stringer told Sky News that the cyberattack had a major impact on the academy’s operations as well as the Ministry of Defense in general, forcing the former to accelerate plans to repair its network.

“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,” Stringer said.

“IT staff had to find backup ways to use regular internet, etc., to keep the courses going, which we managed to do – but not as slickly as previously, that would be fair,” he added.

Although the 2021 hack was blamed on the Chinese government, Stringer says he has no idea who was behind it and that they tried to use the academy as a “backdoor” to gain access to classified and confidential information and sectors of the ministry and its IT systems.

Stringer said he is confident there have been no more breaches beyond the academy, but admitted that the attack had a cost on the latter as well as the ministry.

“It doesn’t look like a violent attack, but there were costs. There were costs to operational output. There were opportunity costs in what our staff could have been doing when they were having to repair this damage,” he said.

The academy headquartered in Oxfordshire, southeast England trains up to 28,000 military personnel, diplomats, and civil servants every year.

In July 2021, the British government attributed the attacks to Chinese state-sponsored hackers who sought to gain access to computer networks all around the world.

The cyberattack enabled large-scale espionage, which included the acquisition of personal and highly confidential information as well as intellectual property./Muhammad Mussa

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