Minister pledges 'crunchy bollockings' will be dished out if Kremlin has hacked army

26 April 2022, 09:00

By Emma Soteriou

"Crunchy bollockings" will be dished out if the Ministry of Defence (MoD) finds that Russia has been able to hack its IT system, the Armed Forces minister has told LBC.

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The identity of more than 100 potential British Army recruits were reported to have been hacked from a UK defence computer.

Data in connection to around 120 recruits were a part of the security breach, which was feared to have been part of a Kremlin intelligence sting.

Speaking on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Armed Forces minister James Heappey said: "If they were hacking the recruitment system, that is clearly a poor reflection on our own IT.

"I'm aware of those reports and I know my colleague, Leo Docherty [veterans minister], who looks after recruitment, has ordered an urgent review of our IT security as a consequence.

"That feels like a very odd intelligence target, given that you will be targeting the newly trained, very junior soldiers - I would've thought that the Kremlin had higher intelligence targets than that."

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He went on to say: "Leo, like Ben Wallace, is a retired Scots Guards Officer and they dish out quite crunchy bollockings, Scots Guards, so I wouldn't want to be heading into Leo's office to be on the receiving end of it.

"We've got to get the basics right. It's all well and good sending all the stuff that we are to Ukraine - that is proving decisive, it's having genuine strategic effect - but at the same time the MoD has to do the small things right as well and I think by and large we do."

As a result of the third party breach, the army enrolment portal was taken offline from mid-March.

The data accessed is believed to have included full names, dates of birth, addresses, qualifications, previous employment details and family information, according to the Mail.

The paper said hackers threatened to dump the details on the 'dark web'.

However, The Guardian claimed the data had been discovered for sale there.

In response to the story, an Army spokesman said: "Following the compromise of a small selection of recruit data, the Army's online recruitment services were temporarily suspended pending an investigation.

"This investigation has now concluded, allowing some functionality to be restored and applications to be processed."

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