Britain vulnerable to cyber-attacks, report warns

Britain’s critical national infrastructure (CNI) has raised the alarm over growing cyber-attacks in the UK in their latest report by saying neither the government or privatised operators are able to overcome cyber-attacks.

The report states the UK government is failing to act with “urgency and forcefulness the situation demands”, claiming that the CNI is a “natural target for such an attack” due to its significant economic and social impact on citizen’s daily life.

“It appears the government is not delivering on it with a meaningful sense of purpose or urgency. Its efforts so far certainly fail to do justice to its own assessment that major cyber-attacks on the UK and interests are a top-tier threat to national security,” the report said.

As overseas hackers get more aggressive, demand has surged for the government to further strengthen their defences, but according to the report, the government lacks funding to invest in new tools to help fend off cybercrime attackers.

It also reports: “Hostile states are becoming more aggressive in their behaviour, with some foreign states starting to explore ways of disrupting CNI, in addition to conducting espionage and theft of intellectual property”.

Thirteen sectors at risk of cyber-attacks

The CNI said the 13 sectors that are most at risk of being compromised are: chemicals, civil nuclear, communications, defence, emergency services, energy, finance, food, government, health, space, transport and water.

The report also said that the imposed price control on energy utilities is to blame for the lack of funding towards improving defences against on-going cyber-attacks.

“Many CNI operators are utility providers whose funding streams are pre-agreed, often by regulators, and limited by price controls. Without a more flexible approach to price controls, the question often asked in relation to cyber security – ‘how much is enough?’ – can become particularly acute for these CNI operators,” the report’s author wrote.

In the report, independent cybersecurity researcher, Pete Cooper, said that protecting CNI against oncoming cyber-attacks could lead “to slow decision making, collaboration, and innovation”.

He also emphasised that the “UK cannot afford to wait and learn through experience” when it comes to using the funds to help the country manage and prevent cyber-attacks.

Despite having invested £250m on a new unit devoted solely to cybersecurity, the report states that the government communications head-quarter (GCHQ) may not be able to cope with cyber-attacks in the future.




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