The head of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), Ciaran Martin, has accused Russian hackers of targeting the UK energy network, telecoms and the media in the past year, describing their activities as “cause for concern.”
This comes just days after Prime Minister Theresa May told the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, “we know what you are doing” in relation to Moscow’s attempts to sow discontent in the West. She accused Russia of meddling in elections and of planting so called “fake news” in the media.
Attempts were made to assault the systems of telecom providers such as BT and to attack news organisations’ websites.
The NCSC is said to be engaging with international partners to tackle the threat. The NCSC was launched last year and is said to have blocked tens of millions of cyber attacks and responded to 590 incidents, including North Korea’s WannaCry attack which crippled the NHS for some time earlier this year.
Whilst WannaCry was the result of North Korean espionage, the UK Government is said to be more concerned with Russian hackers and the Kremlin’s attacks on the west. Russia has been accused of influencing the American election in November 2016, and the potential for doing the same in the UK exists.
For what might happen in the event of the UK energy grid being hacked, you only have to look at what happened when hackers struck in western Ukraine two years ago leaving 230,000 residents in darkness. The Ukraine pointed fingers at Russian hackers at the time and, whilst the attack itself was relatively short, lasting between one and six hours, the worry is that the next one will be more sophisticated and cause more lasting damage.
Hillary Clinton has previously warned that President Putin is in the midst of conducting a cyber cold war against the West. What is also worrying is that the UK is trailing the rest of the world when it comes to cyber security, leaving many organisations and essential services vulnerable to sophisticated attacks, which, according to the National Cybersecurity Centre, are a matter of WHEN not if.
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