Tory leadership race now under threat from Chinese HACKERS after they chose side

The UK was rocked after a 2020 report by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee revealed the extent of Russian cyber activity in Britain. The report found that Russia deployed a range of means – cyber, disinformation, intelligence service activities on British soil – to try to influence policy and public opinion, and to undermine security. The report’s authors claimed the Russians had tried to influence the 2014 Scottish referendum vote as well as the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Now security experts are increasingly concerned that Beijing may unleash its army of hackers to try to influence the outcome of the Tory party leadership election.

Conservative party members will have to choose between the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

During the TV debates earlier in the campaign, both candidates expressed differing views on China.

The Foreign Secretary took a hard line stance towards Beijing, while Mr Sunak argued it was in British interests to develop stronger ties with China so as to increase trade between the two countries.

Mr Sunak has consistently argued for closer ties with Beijing when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

In his annual Mansion House speech last year, he told his audience that the UK should beef up its trading relationship with China.

He said: “Too often, the debate lacks nuance. We need a mature and balanced relationship.”

The then Chancellor claimed Britain could speak out against human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang while still deepening economic ties with Beijing.

Ms Truss, however, believes the UK should form closer ties with countries that share Britain’s democratic values and should not become “strategically dependent” on authoritarian countries like China.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, the Foreign Secretary said: “We shouldn’t be strategically dependent on China – we should be very careful in areas such as technology that we’re not enabling the threat against us.

“We need to be working more with like-minded nations to build our resilience and whether that’s in energy, whether it’s in food, what we cannot be is dependent on those authoritarian regimes.”

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Last week, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) warned of “alliances” between hacker groups and foreign nations such as China, Russia, and North Korea to form a “blended threat” posing both criminal and national security challenges to the United States.

The Justice Department said on Tuesday: “Criminal actors and nation states are forming alliances of convenience, alliances of opportunity, and sometimes alliances by design.

“Today, some nation states allow this criminal activity to persist without consequence — if not expressly condoning activity within its borders — by acting as a safe harbour for these cyber criminals and turning a blind eye.

“And the consequences of cyber-attacks perpetrated by criminal actors can have national security implications.”

The report highlighted Microsoft’s 2021 announcement about “nation-state cyber intrusions” by a hacker group the company dubbed Hafnium, which the DOJ deemed a “state-sponsored threat.”

Microsoft said the hacks of its exchange server were sponsored by the government of China, and the US attributed the activity to the Chinese Ministry of State Security last year.

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