By James Kirkup
6 Feb 2007
MINISTRY of Defence computer networks have been repeatedly penetrated by
hackers, raising fears that sensitive military information could have
been obtained by foreign powers.
The MoD yesterday confirmed its systems have been hacked into at least
nine times since 2002. Five of the successful "attacks" took place last
year. Computer-security experts say the real number is likely to be even
higher, as some hackers are skilful enough to leave no trace of their
The ministry was unable to say where the attacks originated, but Western
security officials are increasingly concerned that China is using
hackers to target sensitive information.
Sophos, an internet security consultancy, estimates that China accounts
for 30 per cent of all "malware" programs designed to infiltrate
Since 2005, the Pentagon and other US defence agencies have faced
repeated hacking attempts blamed on the Chinese military, a series of
attacks codenamed Titan Rain.
Whitehall counter-espionage officials say that there is also evidence of
Chinese state-sponsored hackers targeting British networks in recent
Patrick Mercer, the Conservative homeland security spokesman, said the
penetration of MoD networks showed the need for greater vigilance
"We neglect electronic security at our peril," he said. "This may not be
a bomb on a train or a hostage-taking, but it is every bit as much an
In a statement, the MoD said all external access to its systems is
constantly monitored: "We focus on those attacks which have penetrated
our gateways and have triggered incident-response actions designed to
limit any damage and reduce risk of a recurrence."
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