Suspected foreign hackers have allegedly obtained a year’s worth of former British prime minister Liz Truss’s “highly sensitive discussions,” the Mail reported on Sunday.
The security breach was allegedly discovered back in summer when then foreign secretary Truss was fighting for the Tory leadership, and prompted Boris Johnson, the prime minister at the time, to order a complete media blackout due to the sensitivity of the matter, the Mail on Sunday reported, citing unnamed security sources.
While the details of the hack remain unclear, the culprits are believed to have downloaded up to a year’s worth of recordings, including private conversations in which Truss and her political ally Kwasi Kwarteng criticized Johnson.
The report pinned the blame on foreign state actors “presumed to be working for Vladimir Putin’s Russia,” although a cyber expert cited by the paper also named other usual suspects such as “China, North Korea and Iran who would have huge interest in knowing what the Foreign Secretary is communicating.”
Even though the incident triggered concerns of potential blackmail, a news blackout was ordered, because it was “not a great look for the intelligence services if the Foreign Secretary’s phone can be so easily plundered for embarrassing personal messages,” the Mail cited one source as saying.
A government spokesperson refused to comment on “individuals' security arrangements,” insisting that the British government has “robust systems in place to protect against cyber threats.”
British opposition parties have already demanded an urgent independent probe into the allegations.
Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson Layla Moran said “if it turns out this information was withheld from the public to protect Liz Truss's leadership bid, that would be unforgivable.”
Truss replaced Johnson as Tory leader and became prime minister on September 6, only to resign 45 days later, becoming the shortest-serving premier in UK history.