US, UK Impose Sanctions Over 'Malicious Cyberoperations'

'It's right that we take measures to protect ourselves,' says Sunak, announcing moves against China-linked hacks
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 25, 2024 5:58 PM CDT
US, UK Impose Sanctions Over China Cyberattacks
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attends a visit to an engineering firm in Barrow-in-Furness, England, Monday, March 25, 2024.   (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)

The US and British governments on Monday announced sanctions against a company and two people linked to the Chinese government over a string of malicious cyberactivity targeting the UK's election watchdog and lawmakers in both countries. Officials said those sanctioned are responsible for a hack that may have gained access to information on tens of millions of UK voters held by the Electoral Commission, as well as for cyberespionage targeting lawmakers who have been outspoken about the China threat, the AP reports.

The Foreign Office said the hack of the election registers "has not had an impact on electoral processes, has not affected the rights or access to the democratic process of any individual, nor has it affected electoral registration." The Electoral Commission said in August that it identified a breach of its system in October 2022, though it added that "hostile actors" had first been able to access its servers since 2021. At the time, the watchdog said the data included the names and addresses of registered voters. But it said that much of the information was already in the public domain.

  • Ahead of the sanctions announcement, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reiterated that China is "behaving in an increasingly assertive way abroad" and is "the greatest state-based threat to our economic security." "It's right that we take measures to protect ourselves, which is what we are doing," he said, without providing details.
  • In Washington, the Treasury Department said it sanctioned Wuhan Xiaoruizhi Science and Technology Company Ltd., which it calls a Chinese Ministry of State Security front company that has "served as cover for multiple malicious cyberoperations." It named two Chinese nationals, Zhao Guangzong and Ni Gaobin, affiliated with the Wuhan company, for cyberoperations that targeted US critical infrastructure sectors, "directly endangering US national security."

(More China hacking stories.)

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