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Cyberattack on UK’s Defence Academy caused ‘significant’ impact: Report

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A cyberattack — possibly by China or Russia — reportedly hit the academic arm of the UK’s Ministry of Defence and had a “significant” impact, the officer in charge at the time has revealed.

According to Sky News, Air Marshal Edward Stringer, who retired from the armed forces in August, said the “sophisticated” hack — discovered last March — prompted the Defence Academy to accelerate plans for its entire network to be rebuilt and made more resilient.

The targeting of an academic institution is a sign of how the frontline in modern warfare can be anywhere, the former director-general of the academy told Sky News.

“The consequences for the operations were significant, but then manageable,” Stringer was quoted as saying.

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“But only manageable because your people work incredibly hard to keep things going and find back-up methodologies,” he added.

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

He said he did not know whether criminals or a hostile state were responsible, but a primary concern had been if the hackers had tried to use the Defence Academy as a “backdoor” to penetrate much more secret parts of the MOD’s IT systems.

According to the report, it is the first time a senior — albeit now-former — official has spoken on the record about the cyberattack and its impact on the academy, which is based in Shrivenham, Oxfordshire.



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