Fears were raised today that Boris Johnson is at risk of hacking by Russia or China after the revelation that his mobile number has been freely available online for 15 years.
Former UK national security adviser Lord Ricketts is among those warning of the threat from ‘hostile states’ after the PM’s personal number was highlighted by a popular gossip site.
Downing Street refused to say whether Mr Johnson will now be changing the number. There were claims earlier this month that Cabinet Secretary Simon Case had advised him to switch following concerns over the ease with which lobbyists and others from the business world were able to contact him.
Former UK national security adviser Lord Ricketts said Mr Johnson needs to be more ‘digitally secure’ – saying there was an ‘increased risk’ of potential action by hostile states or criminal gangs if a phone number is widely available.
The number, which the PM hasn’t changed in the 15 years since, is available on the internet
‘I know that modern systems like WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted – nonetheless, I think one would be worried if a hostile state who had sophisticated capabilities, had the mobile phone number itself,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
‘That must increase the risk that they’re able to eavesdrop on some at least of the communications that are going on, and possibly other non-state actors as well, like sophisticated criminal gangs.
‘So, there is no way of knowing whether that’s true, but there must at least be an increased risk if the number is widely available.’
Home Office minister Victoria Atkins tried to play down the issue, criticising the media for highlighting the number’s availability.
‘The Prime Minister, more than anyone, knows his responsibilities when it comes to national security,’ she told Times Radio Breakfast.
‘I’m slightly surprised that a national broadcaster felt it appropriate to advertise the fact that that mobile phone is on the internet, if indeed it is.’
Popular gossip newsletter Popbitch gave its readers clues on how to find the Prime Minister’s number, pointing them to a press release from his time as MP for Henley in 2006.
The number, which the PM hasn’t changed in the 15 years since, is…