The U.K. Treasury is currently fighting off an onslaught of sustained cyberattacks possibly launched by foreign intelligence agencies, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said.
Osborne, speaking at Google's Zeitgeist conference, said the Treasury receives about 20,000 emails per month containing malicious attachments and rigged code designed to penetrate the agency's servers and harvest information, The Guardian reported.
So far, Osborne said, the Treasury's systems have been successful in identifying and preventing intrusion.
Osborne did not say what information the hackers are targeting, or which country or countries he believes are behind the attacks. The criminal methods, however, bear distinct similarities with online cyberattacks that originate in China.
In early March, hackers used Trojan horse-laden emails to break into 150 PCs at the French Finance Ministry and steal highly sensitive documents. Some of the data stolen was redirected to Chinese websites.
In the following two weeks, similarly sophisticated, organized and persistent campaigns — all trademarks of Chinese cyberattacks — hit the security-token maker RSA and the European Commission.