Russian hackers are suspected of breaking in to former trade secretary Liam Fox’s email account to steal classified UK-US trade documents that were leaked in the run-up to the last general election, it has been reported.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has accused “Russian actors” of seeking to influence the vote by “amplifying” the stolen papers online.
They were highlighted by then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who said they were evidence the Conservatives were preparing to sell the NHS to US pharmaceutical companies.
Reuters reported on Monday that Russian hackers are suspected of accessing Dr Fox’s account multiple times between July 12 and October 21 last year, citing two anonymous sources
The account was said to have been the victim of a “spear-phishing” message, where users are tricked into handing over sensitive details - such as log-ins and passwords.
The Cabinet Office declined to comment because of the criminal investigation being led by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and instead defended the Government’s IT systems.
“There is an ongoing criminal investigation into how the documents were acquired, and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this point,” a Government spokeswoman said.
“But as you would expect, the Government has very robust systems in place to protect the IT systems of officials and staff.”
The spokeswoman did not answer questions on whether hackers had accessed a Government or personal email account, while an aide to Dr Fox declined to comment.
An NCSC spokesman said: “We have worked closely with political parties for several years on how to protect and defend against cyber attacks – including publishing advice on our website.