UK Foreign Office Hid a Major Cybersecurity Breach by Russian and Chinese Hackers

Kamso Oguejiofor-Abugu Kamso Oguejiofor-Abugu Writer

In a significant blow to the UK’s national security, hackers from Russia and China successfully infiltrated the Foreign Office’s internal systems in 2021, accessing emails, internal messages, and team meetings. The breach, which was kept under wraps for years, has raised concerns about the UK’s cybersecurity measures.

The simultaneous cyberattacks, believed to be separate endeavors by the two nations, were reportedly enabled when a Foreign Office staff member unintentionally downloaded malware concealed within an email. While the hackers did not gain access to classified information, the breach exposed the day-to-day operations of the crucial government department.

Sources from both the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the Foreign Office confirmed the breach’s gravity.

“At one point, we believe both [Russian and Chinese hackers] were on there,” a GCHQ insider said. “It was very embarrassing and caused a great stir in the government because they didn’t know whether they should admit it or not.”

Although the accessed information was not classified, it potentially exposed correspondence from ambassadors or diplomats stationed abroad that wasn’t marked as classified. This breach could have jeopardized the UK’s relationships with key allies, as private communications might have been intercepted by the adversarial nations.

This cybersecurity lapse comes on the heels of another significant breach where the Electoral Commission’s IT system was compromised for over a year, potentially exposing the data of millions of British voters. While the commission has not identified the culprits, there are suspicions of Russian involvement.

Globally, cyber threats continue to escalate. Microsoft recently warned of a Chinese hacking group compromising critical US infrastructure, aiming to disrupt communications between the US and Asia in the event of a crisis. Meanwhile, companies like British Airways and Boots have alerted their staff about a cyberattack that compromised personal data, with suspected links to a Russian-speaking cybercrime gang called Clop.

About the Author

About the Author

Kamso Oguejiofor is a former Content Writer at SafetyDetectives. He has over 2 years of experience writing and editing topics about cybersecurity, network security, fintech, and information security. He has also worked as a freelance writer for tech, health, beauty, fitness, and gaming publications, and he has experience in SEO writing, product descriptions/reviews, and news stories. When he’s not studying or writing, he likes to play basketball, work out, and binge watch anime and drama series.