American OPM cyber attack: Alarm bells should now ring for Britain, say security experts

The US Department of Homeland Security confirmed that data from four million personnel was accessed by the alleged Chinese hackers

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The Independent Online

Britain’s “alarm bells should be ringing” after the US government was victim of a cyber-attack by alleged Chinese hackers, online security experts have warned.

A total of four million government workers were compromised, the US Department of Homeland Security confirmed in a statement, when data from the Office of Personnel Management and the Interior Department was accessed.

The Senate intelligence committee added that they believed the attack had originated in China, which was described by the Chinese as “irresponsible”.

According to Mark James, a security specialist at anti-virus firm Eset, said the UK Government should be concerned over such a high level data breach.

Mr James said: “The type of data obtained could be used in advanced phishing techniques to contact or infiltrate other organisations.

“A breach of this size should ring alarm bells every time it happens. Tag that alongside data being held for law enforcement agencies being compromised and you should be thinking: ‘Who’s next’?”

Roy Duckles, channel director for Europe at online security firm Lieberman Software, said that given the UK is an ally of the US, similar security defences that were breached could be in place here and said the government should be concerned.

"If the US can be breached, in what appears to be a very targeted and specific attack, then there is nothing to say that hackers aren't already in similar networks in the UK Government,” he said.

“Don't forget that friendly nation states often share information both at a domestic and international level,” he added.

Additional Reporting: PA