Russia Linked Hackers a Threat to UK Infrastructure

Russia Linked Hackers are seeking to “disrupt or destroy” Britain’s critical infrastructure, a Cabinet Office minister will warn later. The groups have started to focus on the UK in recent months, Oliver Dowden will say in a speech. He will unveil new measures to support businesses “on the front line of our cyber defences”.

Meanwhile, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) will issue an official threat alert to critical businesses. Officials are recommending that organisations, such as those behind the UK’s energy and water supplies, “act now” to protect themselves against the emerging cyber threat.

Cyber Security
The NCSC – which is part of UK cyber and intelligence agency GCHQ – will say the hacking groups, which are often sympathetic to Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, are ideologically-motivated.

The alert will warn the groups are “less predictable” because they “not subject to formal state control”.

“Some have stated a desire to achieve a more disruptive and destructive impact against western critical national infrastructure, including in the UK,” the NCSC will say. “We expect these groups to look for opportunities to create such an impact, particularly if systems are poorly protected.”

Speaking at the CyberUK conference in Belfast, Mr Dowden will describe the hackers as “Wagner-like” – a reference to the Russian mercenaries fighting in Ukraine.

“Disclosing this threat is not something we do lightly,” he will say. “But we believe it is necessary if we want these companies to understand the current risk they face, and take action to defend themselves and the country.”

Mr Dowden, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, will also announce plans to set cyber resilience targets for critical sectors to meet within two years and to bring private sector businesses working on critical infrastructure into the scope of resilience regulations.

“These are the companies in charge of keeping our country running. Of keeping the lights on,” he will say. “Our shared prosperity depends on them taking their own security seriously”.

Lindy Cameron, CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre, warned it is important the UK’s critical national infrastructure is protected from hackers and also to “make sure people are ready for the threats they could face in the future”.

She said there have been “some intent” in recent months to try to target such UK infrastructure, adding: “What we are still seeing is quite low-level activity but it is really important that our critical national infrastructure is well protected and resilient.”

Speaking on the BBC Radio Four’s Today programme, she said: “What we’ve seen in the last year is really significant cyber activity in Ukraine as a result of Russia’s conflict so we want to make sure people are prepared for the consequences of these groups taking an interest in more-widely than Ukraine.”

When asked about whether she has seen attempts to target the UK, she said: “We’re seeing some indication of that, but I wouldn’t want to go into further detail.” She will also address the conference in Belfast later on Wednesday.

Read: Quick Guide to Internet Security

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