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British agency classifies China as a cybersecurity risk

China represents a genuine risk to the UK's cybersecurity, the head of the British intelligence agency GCHQ said on Tuesday (14). The leader's assessment is that Russia and Iran represent immediate risks, but Beijing will be the challenge of an era.

In the US and across Europe there is growing anxiety about alleged Chinese espionage activities. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's government is the main voice of accusation against Chinese authorities, who have denied all allegations.

On Monday (13), Sunak stated that the British face “an axis formed by authoritarian countries, such as Russia, Iran, North Korea and China”. Warnings that also came from the head of GCHQ, Anne Keast-Butler.

“As the Prime Minister has said, the next few years will be dangerous and will see many changes,” Kest-Butler told a security conference in Birmingham, central England.

In her first major public speech since being appointed director of the agency last year, she stated that threats from Russia are acute and can be felt by all countries, with growing concern in the relationship between the Russian intelligence service and Kremlin with its allies. And that Iran remained aggressive in the virtual space, associating groups linked to Tehran with attacks aimed at several countries. But she said China was her No. 1 priority.

“In cyberspace, we believe that the irresponsible actions of the People's Republic of China weaken the security of the internet as a whole,” he said.

Keast-Butler's statements echo what has already been said by two other British intelligence agencies, known as MI5 and MI6, and also by similar structures in the USA.

US National Cybersecurity Director Harry Koker told the conference that Chinese military hackers were evading American defenses in cyberspace and targeting the country's assets on an “unprecedented” scale.

“In a crisis or conflict scenario, China could use its installed cybersecurity capabilities to disrupt civilian infrastructure or delay US military actions,” he said.

Last month, Sunak claimed that actors linked to the Chinese state had led to the creation of “malicious cyber campaigns” against British parliamentarians.

And last week, the prime minister claimed that a “malign actor,” which British media said was China citing government sources, had likely caused damage to the payment system used by the British military. Accusations that Beijing classified as “absurd”.

On Monday (13), three men were tried on charges of helping the Hong Kong secret service in the United Kingdom. Two others, including a former parliamentary adviser, face accusations of spying for China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press conference on Tuesday (14) that the British have caused a stir with allegations about Chinese spies and cyberattacks.

Source: CNN Brasil

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