Zenhua data leak contained Boris Johnson's personal data

Information on the prime minister has been collected by a Shenzen firm with alleged links to the Chinese Communist Party

A Chinese tech firm with alleged links to the country's military intelligence service has created a database containing the personal data of some 2.4 million people.

The dataset, built by Shenzen-based firm Zenhua Data, has been leaked and is said to contain details of some 40,000 Britons, including members of the royal family, and UK prime minister Boris Johnson, according to The Telegraph

The information is thought to have been taken mostly from freely available sources, such as social media, but there is a suggestion that it is part of a wider strategy from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to advance its surveillance and authoritarian control both domestically and internationally. 

Security researcher Christopher Balding "stumbled" on the leaked dataset while researching Huawei's alleged links to the Chinese government. Through a series of introductions with activists, "enormous" amounts of the data collected were gradually revealed to him. He said it was "something akin to discovering the Holy Grail".

"This data provides proof of activities that China was believed to engage in, but for the first-time, data confirmed these activities," he wrote. "The individual who provided the Shenzhen Zhenhua database by putting themselves at risk to get this data out has done an enormous service and is proof that many inside China are concerned about CCP authoritarianism and surveillance."

The files are also alleged to contain information on the family tree of the royals and a list of their hobbies and interests. Prince Charles is listed as a "writer, polo player, entrepreneur, painter, helicopter pilot, children's writer and aristocrat", for example.

Related Resource

Simplify to secure

Reduce complexity by integrating your security ecosystem

Download now

For normal citizens, the data includes names, dates of birth, educational history, professional biographies, criminal convictions, social media accounts and other information harvested from the internet. There is also info relating to UK businesses and the movements of both British and American naval ships. 

Featured Resources

How to be an MSP: Seven steps to success

Building your business from the ground up

Download now

The smart buyer’s guide to flash

Find out whether flash storage is right for your business

Download now

How MSPs build outperforming sales teams

The definitive guide to sales

Download now

The business guide to ransomware

Everything you need to know to keep your company afloat

Download now

Recommended

Over two-thirds of companies still run software with WannaCry flaw
WannaCry

Over two-thirds of companies still run software with WannaCry flaw

12 May 2021
IT researcher finds widespread flaws in Wi-Fi security
wifi & hotspots

IT researcher finds widespread flaws in Wi-Fi security

12 May 2021
GitHub now supports security keys in a move away from passwords
Security

GitHub now supports security keys in a move away from passwords

12 May 2021
Cyber attacks on manufacturing up 300% in a year
Security

Cyber attacks on manufacturing up 300% in a year

11 May 2021

Most Popular

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans
flexible working

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans

6 May 2021
Dell XPS 17 (2021) review: A big laptop for big jobs
Laptops

Dell XPS 17 (2021) review: A big laptop for big jobs

10 May 2021
How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD
operating systems

How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD

30 Apr 2021