‘Cyber attack’ targets Foreign Office staff

A "hostile state intelligence agency" launched a cyber attack on the Foreign Office within the last month, Foreign Secretary William Hague revealed at a security conference yesterday. He stopped short of identifying the origin of the attack, but it is thought to be China.

Mr Hague said an email had been sent to three Foreign Office staff members purporting to be from a colleague and "looked quite innocent". He told the conference in Munich: "It was from a hostile state intelligence agency and contained computer code embedded in the attached document that would have attacked their machine."

Cyber-defence systems neutralised the email before it reached the officials. "These are the kinds of threat we are now facing every day," Mr Hague said.

He also cited an attack on a UK defence contractor in December which was designed to steal secrets.