Russian cyber attacks have targeted Britain’s energy networks, telecommunications and media as part of efforts to “undermine the international system”, a senior security official has revealed in 2017. Ciaran Martin, CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said Russia is among the hostile threats posing a growing threat, alongside that from “rampant criminality”. I can’t get into too much of the details of intelligence matters, but I can confirm that Russian interference, seen by the NCSC, has included attacks on the UK media, telecommunications and energy sectors. “The Prime Minister sent Russia a clear message on Monday night – we know what you are doing, and you will not succeed,” he told a summit in London.
Britain’s National Cyber Security Center also published new guidance for industry on cyber security in Jan 2018. Britain’s most critical industries will face fines of up to 24 million U.S. dollars if they do not have effective cyber security measures, the government announced Sunday. The hefty penalties will apply to energy, transport, water and health firms if they fail to have the most robust safeguards in place against cyber attack, the government said in a statement. Sector-specific regulators will be appointed so essential services are protected. The regulators will be able to assess critical industries to make sure plans are as robust as possible.
Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, Margot James, said: “Today we are setting out new and robust cyber security measures to help ensure the UK is the safest place in the world to live and be online. “We want our essential services and infrastructure to be primed and ready to tackle cyber attacks and be resilient against major disruption to services.”
The new measures will encompass potential threats affecting IT such as power outages, hardware failures and environmental hazards. Under the new measures recent cyber breaches such as WannaCry and high profile systems failures would be covered by the new reporting system. Such will have to be reported to the regulator who would assess whether appropriate security measures were in place, according to officials. The new directive, scheduled to come into operation in May, is part of a 2.7 billion U.S. dollars national cyber security strategy by the British Government.
According to the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Risks Report, cyber-security is recognised as one of the greatest threats to business worldwide, and the global cost of crimes in cyberspace is estimated to be $445bn. Ben Gummer, Minister for the Cabinet Office & Paymaster General, said: “No longer the stuff of spy thrillers and action movies, cyber-attacks are a reality and they are happening now. Our adversaries are varied – organised criminal groups, ‘hactivists’, untrained teenagers and foreign states.
To meet cyber challenges the government launched a comprehensive National Cyber Security Strategy in November 2016, supported by £1.9 billion of transformational investment. A new Civil Nuclear Cyber Security Strategy has been issued by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in the UK. BEIS says the strategy helps ensure the UK has a secure and resilient energy system “by ensuring that the civil nuclear sector is able to defend against, recover from, and is resilient to evolving cyber threats”.
The concerns have also been raised about the threat to Nuclear power plants from both conventional cyber-criminals and nation-state actors. And SCADA legacy equipment – that is, computers and electronics that play a part in running nuclear plants but were developed prior to the advent of the internet – are widely regarded as dangerous because they lack robust online security systems. A blended attack is another scenario that it is concerned about, in which an adversary uses a cyber-attack to enable or reinforce a physical attack
“The first duty of the Government is to keep the nation safe. Any modern state cannot remain secure and prosperous without securing itself in cyberspace. That is why we are taking the decisive action needed to protect our country, our economy and our citizens.”
The most visible achievement in the past year has been the creation of the National Cyber Security Centre, bringing key capabilities and expertise together in one place. On February 14, 2017, the United Kingdom officially opened its National Cyber Security Centre (“NCSC”). The NCSC, will be part of the Government Communications Headquarters (“GCHQ”), the UK’s intelligence and security arm akin to the National Security Agency in the United States.
The NCSC is designed to be the UK’s single, central body to manage cybersecurity incidents in the country and UK’s hub for interagency cooperation. In all, they responded to more than 590 significant cyber incidents, more than 30 of which were sufficiently serious to require a cross-Government response.
The NCSC expects to take the lead in responding to the most serious cybersecurity incidents, especially on critical national infrastructure, but also plans to help raise the security capability in the UK against day-to-day malicious activity.As part of the NCSC’s operation, the UK government plans to invest £1.9 billion ($2.4 billion) in cybersecurity over the next five years.
A key strand in this approach has been the NCSC’s Active Cyber Defence (ACD) programme, which aspires to protect the majority of people in the UK from the majority of the harm, caused by the majority of the attacks, for the majority of the time. It is intended to tackle the high-volume commodity attacks that affect people’s everyday lives, rather than the highly sophisticated and targeted attacks, which we deal with in other ways.
The strategy has been broken down into three areas: defence, deter and develop.
Defence, the chancellor said government will reorganise its own defences, dealing with the plethora of government departments’ IT security arrangements and shortcomings in cyber-security. “We will develop a series of measures to actively defend ourselves against cyber attacks. These national capabilities, developed and operated by the private sector, will reinforce the UK’s reputation for being one of the safest places in the world to do business.”
“We all have a role to play in protecting computers, networks and data. We will improve the way government protects its data by applying appropriately high standards of cyber security to government systems, introducing stronger defences for our systems and maintaining public confidence in our online government services. We will build a new secure, cross-government network to improve joint working on sensitive cyber issues.”
One company the government is highlighting here is Netcraft for “automated defence techniques to reduce the impact of cyber-attacks by hackers, stopping viruses and spam emails ever reaching their intended victims for example.”
“We will improve our national ability to respond quickly and effectively to cyber attack. We will create a new National Cyber Centre to lead this response. Operating under GCHQ leadership, it will manage our future operational response to cyber incidents, ensuring that we can protect the UK against serious attacks and minimise their impact.”
Government is also making efforts to increase cyber resilience around the globe in over 50 countries, by raising public awareness and reinforcing Computer Security Incident Response Teams.” We’ve also started testing an ambitious Active Cyber Defence programme of ground breaking initiatives to improve basic cyber security across the public sector. Today, we are launching the next phase of our Cyber Aware programme through the Tech-Free-15 campaign which encourages the public and small businesses to adopt secure behaviours, like taking time out to install software and app updates to better protect themselves from cyber crime,” said First Secretary of State Damian Green.
On deterrence, “UK will not only defend itself in cyberspace but would also be prepared to “strike back against those that try to harm our country”. “And we will continue to invest in our offensive cyber capabilities, because the ability to detect, trace and retaliate in kind is likely to be the best deterrent. ” Primarily based in the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), these capabilities will enable us to match the pace of technological change,” said government’s 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.
Finally, on the develop strand, the government will place strong emphasis on research and development and education. “We will invest in capabilities to detect and analyse cyber threats, pre-empt attacks and track down those responsible. To that end, the government will recruit over 50 cyber-crime investigators for the National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU). This is part of the government’s plans to invest tens of millions of pounds in cyber-crime law enforcement at local and national level.
A new Cyber Security Research Institute – a virtual collection of UK universities – will look at ways to increase the security of smartphones, tablets and laptops. In addition, the UK’s first cyber security Innovation Centre will be created in Cheltenham and the UK will launch a Cyber Innovation Fund next year to help develop new technology.
“So our goal is not just to defend and deter cyber attacks, but also to develop our cyber security ecosystem. This means bringing together our local cyber security clusters and our world leading universities including the 14 Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security.” The new Cheltenham Innovation Centre has been opened a Cyber Accelerator programme has been launched, which provides start-ups with access to world-class experts to help them build cutting-edge technology, said green.
And the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport kicked off their comprehensive Cyber Schools Programme, which aims to train nearly 6,000 young people over the coming years through extracurricular activities with the SANS Institute, BT, FutureLearn and the Cyber Security Challenge.
“The Government will ensure that our Armed Forces have strong cyber defences, and that in the event of a significant cyber incident in the UK, they are ready to provide assistance. We will provide the Armed Forces with advanced offensive cyber capabilities, drawing on the National Offensive Cyber Programme which is run in partnership between the MOD and GCHQ.”
We will continue to help NATO and other allies to protect their networks using our intelligence and technical insights, and we will use our advanced capabilities to enable the success of coalition operations.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said: “Britain is already an acknowledged global leader in cyber security thanks to our investment of over £860m in the last Parliament, but we must now keep up with the scale and pace of the threats we face. Our new strategy, underpinned by £1.9 billion of support over five years and excellent partnerships with industry and academia, will allow us to take even greater steps to defend ourselves in cyberspace and to strike back when we are attacked.”
Ben Gummer, Minister for the Cabinet Office & Paymaster General, said: “The first duty of the Government is to keep the nation safe. Any modern state cannot remain secure and prosperous without securing itself in cyberspace. That is why we are taking the decisive action needed to protect our country, our economy and our citizens.”
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