LONDON - The government must be alert to potential cyber attacks from countries such as China, ministers have said as tensions increase between London and Beijing. Last month relations between the UK and China soured after Boris Johnson pledged to offer refuge to millions of Hong Kong citizens if the country implements its planned national security law. The government is also reported to have ‘changed its view’ on plans for Chinese tech company Huawei to play a role in developing the UK’s 5G network due to growing unease over security risk. Now senior sources claim the worsening ties could see Britain be targed by Chinese-backed hackers in a so-called ‘cyber 9/11’. This could damage computer networks, cause power and phone blackouts and bring hospitals, government and businesses to a standstill. Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre says it is not ‘expecting’ a rise in attacks. However, one senior minister said the threat was ‘obviously part of conversations’, but added that ‘all risk must be looked at in the round’.
They told the Mail on Sunday: ‘Huawei is a menace and not acting on it risks national security. Actions, however, have consequences and they cannot be discounted.’ Shadow Minister Security Minister Conor McGinn also emphasied that the UK should be ‘alert to the risk of cyber attacks from hostile states’ while ‘at this time of heightened tensions’. He added: ‘Our critical national infrastructure should be ready and able to repel any such attack on the UK.’ Global strategist Dr Alan Mendoza, from the Henry Jackson Society foreign policy think-tank, also said China was ‘far from being a benign friend’ and said it made sense to ‘China-proof’ critical systems in the UK as an urgent priority. The government is expected to announce they won’t be developing the UK’s 5G network with Huawei (Picture: Getty Images) In June, Australia revealed that they had been grappling with large-scale cybe attacks from what the Prime Minister Scott Morrison described as a ‘malicious’ and ‘sophisticated’ ‘state-based actor’. He went on to say the assult targeted ‘government, industry, political organisations, education, health, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure’. The Australian government did not publicly name China as being responsible, but it is understood officials concluded that the attack may have been linked to tensions with Beijing. China has repeatedly denied any involvement.(FA)