Cyber Attack On Britain’s Defence Academy

A cyber attack on Britain's national Defence Academy, possibly by Russia or China, has caused “significant” damage, says a retired high-ranking officer. 

Air Marshal Edward Stringer, who retired in August, said the attack which was first discovered in March 2021 and meant the Defence Academy was required to rebuild its network. 

The targeting of an academic institution is an indication of how the frontline in modern warfare can be anywhere, the former director general of the academy told Sky News.He did not know if criminals or a hostile state, like China, Russia, Iran or North Korea, were responsible, but the damage has yet to be fully rectified nine months later

Stringer said the attack, was first detected March 2021, meant the Defence Academy was forced to rebuild its network. Stringer did not know if criminals or a hostile state, such as China, Russia, Iran or North Korea, were responsible but the damage has yet to be fully rectified. “It could be any of those or it could just be someone trying to find a vulnerability for a ransomware attack that was just, you know, a genuine criminal organisation... There were costs to … operational output. There were opportunity costs in what our staff could have been doing when they were having to repair this damage." he said. 

News of this event appears alongside disclosure of a similar damaging attack on Belgian defence networks. 

It is the first time a senior officer has spoken on the record about the cyber attack and its impact on the academy, which is based in Shrivenham, Oxfordshire, and teaches thousands of British and overseas military officers every year. The school teaches 28,000 military personnel, diplomats and civil servants a year and moved more online during the pandemic.

Stringer the attack was not successful and while the hackers may have been using the academy as a “backdoor” to other Ministry of Defence systems, there were no breaches beyond the school.

Air Marshall Stringer was also director general of joint force development and led British military thinking about how it would adapt to the future of warfare, said the attack fell within a so-called grey zone of harm, which falls below the threshold of war

The National Cyber Security Centre, a branch of GCHQ, was also made aware of the hack and a British Defence Ministry official said: “In March 2021 we were made aware of an incident impacting the Defence Academy IT infrastructure. We took swift action and there was no impact on the wider Ministry of Defence IT network. Teaching at the Defence Academy has continued.”

GBNews:        Sky:         Independent:      Leicester Mercury:       Enfield Independent:      Guardian

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