Criticism of Boris Johnson stolen from Liz Truss’ phone by Russian hackers | Politics | News

Criticism of Boris Johnson stolen from Liz Truss’ phone by Russian hackers |  Politics |  News

The horrific security breach was discovered as the Tory leadership unfolded over the summer – but a decision was taken by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Secretary of State Simon Case to suppress it, security sources have told the Mail on Sunday.

A year’s worth of messages are believed to have been downloaded from the Foreign Secretary’s phone, ranging from classified secrets to politically damaging internal disputes, the Mail on Sunday reveals.

The hack is said to have been carried out by Russian agents.

Of particular concern are talks with foreign governments about the war in Ukraine, and criticism of Boris Johnson made by Truss to her ally Kwasi Kwarteng, leading to a risk of Kompromat and potential blackmail.

Discussions with foreign ministers are believed to have revealed precise details of arms shipments and aid packages to Ukraine.

Truss is known to have been forced to change her mobile phone number just before she took office as Prime Minister, but the reasons behind the decision to reject a 10-year-old number were not known until now. Most civil servants were issued with Apple iPhones after Blackberries were phased out.

Her old handset and sim card are said to be so compromised they have been placed in secure public storage.

A source familiar with the incident told the paper: “This caused absolute pandemonium. Boris was told immediately and it was agreed with the Secretary of State that there would be a total news blackout. It’s not a great look for the intelligence services if the Foreign Secretary’s phone can so easily plundered for embarrassing personal messages from agents believed to be working for Putin’s Russia.”

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Others claimed she was so worried the news would derail her leadership bid that “she had trouble sleeping” until Case instituted a news blackout.

It was not known how Truss allowed her phone to be compromised. The options range from receiving and replying to an insecure text message or link, to downloading a suspicious app.

An Israeli system called Pegasus can be activated via text message and remain dormant in the phone collecting data. Pegasus was reportedly used by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to hack Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

But if the system was deployed on Liz Truss’s phone, the consequences could be even more serious.

Last night cyber expert Hans Horan of Sibylline said: “Of course there is nothing to suggest that Pegasus was used. But if her phone was hacked by Russia using Pegasus or another Israeli application, that would be particularly worrying in geopolitical terms because The NOS group, which makes Pegasus, says it only deals with authorities.

“That would mean that the Mossad enabled Russia in this venture,”

He added: “It is difficult to assess what has happened. The options range from simple phishing or clicking on a compromised app to deliberately infecting Pegasus.

“Apple phones are considered more secure, but that’s only because less malware is written for the iOS operating system

“It is worrying that it is so simple. There should be a very limited number of things that Liz Truss should be allowed to do with her work phone. She should not be allowed to download apps that are not at work, or have personal information on them. This is standard diplomatic practice. “

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Last year a report from Which? warned that up to half of UK consumers buying new mobile phones could be putting themselves at risk of security issues and cyber attacks.

The consumer group said the short shelf life of mobile devices, combined with the length of service contracts, meant that about 48 percent of devices currently on the market could become obsolete or have expired and lose security support before the airtime contract period ends, leaving owners at risk of defaulting .

And a poll of 500 business executives by Opinium last week revealed that 86 percent failed to increase cyber security measures when traveling abroad.

A UK government spokesman said: “We do not comment on individuals’ security arrangements.

“The government has robust systems in place to protect against cyber threats. This includes regular security briefings for ministers and advice on protecting their personal data and mitigating cyber threats.”

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “This is extremely serious – it shows the seriousness of the threats from countries that would harm us and why cyber security must be taken so seriously by everyone in government.

“There are enormously important national security issues raised by an attack like this from a hostile state that would have been taken extremely seriously by our intelligence and security agencies.

“There are also serious security questions surrounding why and how this information has been leaked or released right now, which also need to be investigated urgently.

“It is important that all these security issues are investigated and dealt with at the very highest level and we need to know that the government recognizes the seriousness of this and the importance of fully protecting our national security.”

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It comes as Labor last night said it will try to force the government to publish its assessments of Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s security breaches, as a backlash grows against her reappointment just six days after she was forced out for breaching the ministerial code by sharing a sensitive document with a Tory backbencher from a personal email.

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