Oliver Dowden, the minister-ranked head of the cabinet office that coordinates the work of the British government, in his speech at the opening of the CyberUK 2023 event – without details – said that last year’s leadership competition of the ruling British Conservative Party and the Scottish National Party (SNP) ruling in Scotland a few weeks ago were also “threats value from cyberspace”.
Dowden also said that in the last twelve months, 32 percent of British companies and non-profit aid organizations reported a cyber attack or hacking of their IT systems.
According to the minister, the threat from state actors that can be detected in cyberspace is still “from the usual directions”, the biggest from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.
However, the UK’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) has detected the emergence of several groups that are “aligned with Russia” and support the Russian invasion of Ukraine over the past 18 months.
The threats posed by groups like this “come from the fringes of the states,” roughly cyber equivalents of the Wagner mercenary organization operating in Ukraine, and initially focused their attacks on Ukraine and its surroundings.
Recently, however, they began to turn their attention to the United Kingdom and its allies, and are looking for opportunities to weaken the critically important British national infrastructure network, said the head of the London Cabinet Office.
According to Oliver Dowden, unlike past attack attempts, these groups are not seeking financial gain or espionage, their primary intention is to cause disruption to the operation of British infrastructure facilities, or even to destroy these facilities.
Their motivation is not financial, but ideological, and although these perpetrators are connected to state bodies, in many cases they are not under the control of these foreign states, and for this reason they are less likely to show restraint, said the head of the British Cabinet Office at the Belfast conference.
Oliver Dowden announced: For all these reasons, the NCSC issued a formal warning to the operators of the UK’s infrastructure network on Wednesday, along with a number of recommendations for action to strengthen the resilience of companies.
Dowden described it as unprecedented for the British government to publicly issue such an alert.
He emphasized: London does not believe that these groups are currently capable of widespread damage to the British infrastructure system. However, the government nevertheless considers it necessary to issue this warning, with the aim of enabling companies to have an idea of the threats they face and to take the appropriate defensive measures.
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