Feeds

Foreign cyber spies target British defence official

Spear phishing foiled

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Foreign spies targeted a senior British defence official in a sophisticated spear phishing operation that aimed to steal military secrets.

The plan was foiled last year when the official became suspicious of an email she received from a contact she had met at a conference.

The official showed the highly personalised message to Ministry of Defence IT experts, who then found the attachment contained malware designed to leak classified material to a foreign intelligence agency.

The MoD declined to comment on the incident, which was briefly discussed at a recent conference by Simon Kershaw, its head of defence security and assurance.

The Register, however, has established that the foreign spies' target was Joanna Hole, who until her retirement in March was the MoD's head of safety and sustainable development. She had responsibility for business continuity and regularly briefed ministers and forces chiefs.

In a previous role, according to her LinkedIn profile, Hole represented the MoD at the highly sensitive COBRA emergency committee.

Kershaw did not name the foreign power behind the operation, but China is the most likely culprit. Its huge online espionage effort was a major motivator of the recent government decision to spend £650m in improved cyber security over four years.

The MoD is to create its Defence Cyber Operations Group as part of the investment. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.