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MoD responds to cyber attack on payments system

Cyber alert notice
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The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has set out an eight-point plan in response to a cyber attack on the payment systems for the Armed Forces.

Defence Secretary Grant Schapps made a statement to the House of Commons that there were indications that a “malign actor” had gained to part of the network, operated by a contractor reported in The Daily Telegraph as being Shared Services Connected Ltd. It holds personal data of regular, reserve and recently retired personnel, including names, bank details and, in a smaller number of cases, addresses.

He said there was so far no evidence of any data being removed and that the affected system is separate to the MoD’s core network and not connected to the main military HR system.

He also declined to name the source of the attack, although there have been reports, including from Sky News, that it is thought to be connected to the Chinese state.

The Chinese government has denied any involvement.

Putting it right

“It should not have happened, and this eight-point plan seeks to ensure it is put right and that it cannot happen again,” Schapps said.

The steps include having immediately taken the system offline, launching a full investigation to examine potential failings by the contractor, alerting the service personnel affected, planning to make specialist guidance on data security available on GOV.UK, and setting up a helpline to support individuals.

These will be accompanied by setting up a personal data protection service for serving personnel, which will constantly monitor each individual’s personal data and notify them of any irregularities. In addition, welfare and financial advice is being made available through chains of command, and the MoD has stopped processing payments.

Schapps said that changes will be made to the system to ensure it is secure before recommencing payments.

He added the MoD is also reviewing all personnel data to make sure it is secure.

“This incident is further proof that the UK is facing rising and evolving threats and, as I set out in my speech at Lancaster House in January, the world is, I’m afraid, becoming somewhat more dangerous,” he said.

“Last month, this Government therefore announced an increase in defence spending to meet these new threats, reaching 2.5% of GDP by the end of the decade.”


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