‘Russians stole British government documents by phishing email to minister’

Russian hackers allegedly broke into the personal email account of former British Minister Liam Fox by sending him a spear phishing email. Fox probably clicked on an infected file in this email. With the entrance, the Russians stole government documents.

The former Minister for International Trade used his personal email account for government communications, according to The Guardian. It is not clear why and which mail provider he used. As a minister, Fox was in contact with the US government to negotiate a new trade agreement with the United States.

Anonymous sources within the British government tell the newspaper that Fox was the victim of a spear phishing attack. This is a targeted attack on a specific target, in which the criminals send seemingly legitimate emails. They probably sent an infected file along, which Fox clicked on. The hackers managed to break into Fox’s mail account several times between July 12 and October 21 last year. Fox was a minister in the UK government until July 24, 2019.

During the attack, the hackers stole secret government documents. This includes a file on the British NHS health service. According to this file, the British government under the leadership of Boris Johnson would be willing to ‘open up’ certain parts of the NHS to the American market. UK residents can get free health care through the NHS. Commercialization of this system is politically sensitive in the country. Johnson previously denied that this system was ‘for sale’.

These documents were posted on Reddit last October by the user Gregoratior. Later, Reddit banned this account from the platform. Reddit links the account to the Russian cyber operation Secondary Infektion, an organization allegedly linked to the Russian government. It is not clear whether Secondary Infektion was also behind the attack on Fox. The British government does not want to confirm how the documents were leaked, only that the incident is being investigated by police forces.

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