Ministers fear China may launch a devastating online attack on Britain – dubbed a “cyber 9/11” – amid growing tensions between London and Beijing.
High-level sources say that a “perfect storm” of diplomatic feuds over Hong Kong, tech giant Huawei and Covid-19 could lead to a total attack by Chinese-backed hackers.
The warning comes as the government prepares to officially announce a U-turn that would prevent Huawei from helping build Britain’s ultra-fast 5G mobile network.
High-level sources say “perfect storm” of diplomatic feuds over Hong Kong, tech giant Huawei and Covid-19 could lead to total attack by Chinese-backed hackers (file photo)
The warning comes as the government prepares to officially announce a U-turn that would prevent Huawei from helping build Britain’s ultra-fast 5G mobile network. Pictured: telecommunications mast damaged by fire in Birmingham
After Australia adopted a similar hard line, it was hit by a large-scale sustained cyber attack.
How a wave of revenge attacks hit Australia
By Harry Cole
Seventy years ago, the United Kingdom was the first major western country to recognize New China. Over the years, despite the twists and turns, [the] Sino-British relations have continued to grow.
The most important lessons we have learned from the past 70 years are: mutual respect for everyone’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in everyone’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit.
The past 70 years have told us that when these principles are respected, Sino-British relations progress; otherwise, this relationship would suffer setbacks or even regression.
We hope that the British side will learn from history and respect these principles in order to contribute to the healthy and steady development of Sino-British relations rather than the other way around.
China is a staunch guardian of cybersecurity and also one of the biggest victims of hacking.
We oppose and punish, in accordance with the law, all forms of cyber espionage and attacks. This position is consistent and clear.
Boris Johnson has also enraged the Chinese Communist Party over its firm stance on Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong freedoms and calls for an investigation into the true source of the coronavirus, which is suspected of accidentally leaking from a laboratory. Wuhan.
Security chiefs fear that, in the worst-case scenario, state-sponsored attacks will paralyze computer networks, leading to telephone and power outages and the shutdown of hospitals, government and businesses.
In other developments:
- Steve Bannon, who was chief strategist for Donald Trump’s White House, told the Mail on Sunday that the spies were building a case that the Covid-19 pandemic was caused by a leak from the Wuhan Institute for Virology – and that the subsequent cover-up amounted to “premeditated murder”;
- Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the select committee for the defense of the Commons, warned that China posed more threats to the United Kingdom than Soviet Russia during the cold war, writing in this newspaper: “China is infinitely richer than the ‘USSR never was. It is also more subtle and long-term in its strategy than anything dreamed of by Stalin or Khrushchev ‘;
- Respected Chinese virologist Dr Li-Meng Yan – who fled to America because she knows how [Beijing] treats whistleblowers “- said authorities were aware of the coronavirus epidemic in December, weeks before admitting it to the world.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison informed Johnson of the attack on his country which he said targeted government, industry, political organizations, education, health, essential service providers last month and operators of other essential infrastructure. Although the Australian government has not publicly labeled China responsible, it is understood that officials have concluded that the attack was linked to tensions with Beijing – although China denies any involvement.
The National Cyber Security Center in Britain says it does not “expect” an increase in attacks. But as Britain prepares to significantly tighten relations with China, the ministers believe that there could be brutal reprisals.
A senior minister said, “Obviously, this is part of our conversations. But at the same time, all the risks must be examined in the round. Huawei is a threat and not responding to it threatens national security. However, actions have consequences and cannot be ruled out. “Ghost Security Minister Conor McGinn said last night,” In this time of heightened tension, the government must be alert to the risk of cyber attacks from hostile states and prepare for it. Our essential national infrastructure should be ready and capable of repelling such an attack on the United Kingdom. “
Global strategist Dr Alan Mendoza of the Henry Jackson Society’s foreign policy think tank added: “Far from being a benign friend, China is a strategic competitor who has the wherewithal to strike at the heart of our infrastructure. Putting China to the test of our critical systems must now become an urgent priority for the government in order to avoid a possible crisis.
The fears come as Mr. Bannon said that experts from the Wuhan laboratory at the center of global suspicion of the coronavirus pandemic have “defected” and are in the hands of Western intelligence services. In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Mr. Bannon said, “I know some defectors are working with the FBI to try to put together what happened. I think people will be shocked. “
Bannon also called on Johnson to abandon plans to allow Huawei into the UK 5G system, describing the tech company as part of “the military wing of the Chinese Communist Party”.
Conservative MP Ellwood added: “Any idea that we can trust China must surely have been dispelled after its initial – and disastrous – attempts to hide the Covid-19 pandemic. The lifestyle that we take for granted is really under threat.