Friday 18 December 2020 / 4:57 PM Conor McGinn / Security

Conor McGinn comments on the Sunburst cyber-attack on the US government

Conor McGinn MP, Labour’s Shadow Security Minister, has written to the Government to demand clarity on whether UK defence, security or economic interests have been affected by the Sunburst cyber attack and to ask what action the Minister plans to take.

Conor McGinn said:

“This cyberattack on one of our closest allies is unprecedented in its scale and duration, and we need urgent clarity from the Government about whether there has been any direct or associated impact on Britain’s defence, security or economic interests.

“It’s vital that the UK is prepared to repel any such attacks here and take the appropriate measures to protect us and our allies from this hostile activity.

“With the National Security Adviser focused on negotiations with the EU, Ministers must reassure the British public that our national security and this grave situation is receiving the full attention it merits.”


Full text of letter to Security Minister James Brokenshire:

Dear James

You will be aware of the deeply concerning reports of the ongoing cyberattack on every level of the United States Government, economic institutions, key industries and critical infrastructure.

This attack on one of our closest allies is unprecedented in its scale and duration, and I wish to raise several questions about its potential impact on the United Kingdom.

  1. Has any part of the UK Government been directly targeted or affected by this attack?
  2. Has any part of UK defence and security been compromised by attacks on US partners?
  3. Have any UK economic interests or commercial assets been affected by this attack?
  4. Is it the UK Government’s assessment that this attack was caused by hostile state activity?
  5. What steps are you taking to reassess the threats to the UK in light of these developments and ensure we are protected against such activity?
  6. President-elect Biden has said he will seek to impose “substantial costs on those responsible for such malicious attacks, including in coordination with our allies and partners.” Can you confirm that the UK supports this approach and will you seek a meeting of the Five Eyes Partnership and other allies to agree joint action?
  7. With the National Security Adviser currently leading negotiations with the European Union, can you tell us when you last met him, if you have discussed this particular matter with him, and when the National Security Council last met?

It is clear that the UK must continue to be resilient and ensure its systems are robust enough to repel attacks from hostile states and other actors, develop the capacity to pre-empt such attacks and, where necessary, act to protect our national security and interests.

I trust that you and the Government will be able to reassure our allies and the British people on ​these matters.