UK issues warning over new Russian-linked cyber threat
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has issued a formal warning alerting organisations of imminent and occurring Russian-linked cyber attacks.
According to the alert, the attacks are more ideologically motivated than financially and could be ‘destructive and disruptive’ to UK critical national infrastructure (CNI).
The initial threats organisations should be prepared for are distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, website defacements and spread of misinformation, but the report also said they expect an impact on western CNI, too.
Dr Marsha Quallo-Wright, NCSC deputy director for CNI, said: “It has become clear that certain state-aligned groups have the intent to cause damage to CNI organisations, and it is important that the sector is aware of this. In the wake of this emerging threat, our message to CNI sectors is to take sensible, proportionate steps now to protect themselves.”
Today, Oliver Dowden, the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is expected to speak at the CyberUK conference in Belfast to confirm this official threat notice.
“Disclosing this threat is not something we do lightly,” Dowden is expected to tell attendees, “but we believe it is necessary… if we want these companies to understand the current risks they face and take action to defend themselves and the country.”
Businesses can’t afford “to leave their digital back door open to cyber crooks and hackers,” he is also due to say.
In response to today’s warning, Achi Lewis, area VP EMEA for Absolute Software offered advice to help organisations prepare for such an attack.
“Cyber-attacks are a case of when, not if, and without a resilient cyber posture, organisations susceptible to malicious threats – particularly when they escalate to attack types such as ransomware.”
“Prevention requires staff training, up-to-date security software, and visibility over devices and applications on a network. Solutions which utilise secure access controls and resilient Zero Trust can provide centralised IT teams with visibility over their entire network,” Lewis said.
Russian DDoS attacks have been on the rise since the Russia-Ukraine war, which has disturbed the likes of NATO, which had a number of websites temporarily disrupted last February, and the MI5 also saw its public website affected by pro-Russian hackers in October last year.
It was also reported in the Independent that Dowden will also take the time to address recent criticism over low-paid cyber security roles in the civil service.
In the last month, the UK government’s economic and finance ministry, the Treasury, advertised the role of head of cyber security with a starting salary of £50,000. According to the job site Glassdoor, the average salary for similar positions in the private sector is over double that at around £130,000.
Dowden will tell the conference: “These are people protecting the systems and public services that millions of people across the country rely on every day, so we should want the very best people in charge of them. We must be competitive to stay ahead.”
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