Dowden guarantees UK elections will be safe from Chinese cyber attacks

25 March 2024, 19:34

Dowden
Cyber-attacks. Picture: PA

Beijing was on Monday publicly blamed by the UK Government for targeting the elections watchdog.

Oliver Dowden said he could guarantee the elections this year would be safe from Chinese cyber attacks and insisted UK national security would not be put at risk by Chinese-made smart vehicles.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the local elections in May and the general election later in 2024 “will be safe and secure”, after earlier formally blaming Beijing for an attack on the Electoral Commission which exposed the personal data of 40 million voters.

In a statement to the House of Commons, he announced sanctions on two people and an entity associated with Chinese state-linked hacking group APT31.

Speaking to the PA news agency later on Monday, he expressed confidence the electoral process would be safe from Chinese espionage.

Mr Dowden said: “Yes, I can guarantee that our electoral processes will be safe and secure.

“That is not to say there isn’t an increasingly hostile landscape against which all elections around the world are being conducted.”

He added that “it’s precisely because we’re in this year of elections when we face this heightened risk from malign actors” such as China, acting in co-operation with states including Russia, Iran and North Korea, that it is important that “nations that believe in democracy, openness, the rule of law stand together”.

Pressed on why the action was only being taken now, when the Electoral Commission attack was identified in October 2022, the Deputy Prime Minister said it was important to have “a robust evidence base” and a “united and concerted front” with the United States.

The UK’s increased pressure on China came amid similar action from the US, which indicted several Chinese individuals accused of malicious cyber operations on Monday.

Dowden
Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden telling the Commons Beijing was to blame for a cyberattack on the Electoral Commission (UK Parliament/Andy Bailey/PA)

US President Joe Biden, citing possible national security risks, recently announced an investigation into Chinese-made smart cars that can gather sensitive information about Americans driving them.

Mr Dowden, asked whether the UK has similar concerns, insisted the Government would ensure Chinese connected vehicles were secure.

“We’ll make sure that we protect the security of our transport infrastructure,” he said.

“And of course, any new technology requires approval from safety authorities.

“And I know that the Secretary of State for Transport will ensure that any new technology that’s deployed on our roads is protected and secure.”

The minister also said the UK kept all decisions on Chinese nuclear investment “under review”, amid fresh concerns about Bradwell B, the proposed nuclear power station at Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex, put forward by China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN).

Mr Dowden said: “Of course we keep all these decisions under review.

“But I believe that we’ve reached a sensible place in relation to this and working across Government and with our intelligence community, we’ll make sure that any nuclear investments are safe and secure.”

By Press Association

More Technology News

See more More Technology News

AI study

Action needed to protect election from AI disinformation, study says

Dr Laura Cinti looks up at an E.woodii plant growing in a glasshouse at Kew Gardens

AI enlisted in the hunt for female partner for lonely ancient plant

A mobile phone next to a telecoms mast near Dundry, Somerset

Pace required to hit targets on rural mobile signal unsustainable, report says

A NatWest sign

NatWest apologises to customers after mobile and online banking suffer outages

Greg Clark

AI regulators in UK are ‘under-resourced’, warns science committee chairman

Openreach engineer

Plans to build full fibre broadband in more than 500 new places unveiled

TikTok strategy

Tory TikTok launch ‘pathetic’ compared with Labour’s ‘savvier’ approach – expert

Person using laptop

More than 300 million children a year face sexual abuse online, study suggests

There are calls for mobile phones to be totally banned for under 16s

Calls for mobile phones to be totally banned for under 16s

A young girl using a mobile phone (picture posed by model)

Next government should consider banning phones for under-16s, report says

Sir Chris Bryant

AI should be used to develop an app which detects skin cancer, Labour MP says

Handout image from Microsoft of its Copilot virtual assistant displayed on a laptop screen

Microsoft expanding Copilot AI assistant to organise meetings and support teams

Solar panels on a house roof

Octopus Energy launches ‘buy now, pay later’ for solar panels

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi set for June IPO in welcome boost for London market

A person using a laptop

Nations agree to develop shared risk thresholds for AI as Seoul summit closes

Microsoft new equiment

Data regulator looking into Microsoft’s AI Recall feature