Cyber security threats are increasing day by day, and it is not just individuals and businesses that are being threatened. With improvements in technology and access to the internet, and with more and more information being stored electronically, so-called ‘foreign actors’ are finding new ways to threaten not just cyber security, but also national security. It is because of this that Phillip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, has announced a spend of £1.9 billion to fund improvements in national cyber security until the end of 2020.
The Russian Threat
The most prominent foreign actor on the cyber security stage is Russia. Although the Kremlin has dismissed the allegations on the basis that there is currently no evidence of Russian government involvement, MI5 has warned that Russia are vastly increasing their aggressive ways. MI5 has informed the public that Russia, whether government agencies are involved or not, have the potential to shut down the UKs airports and electrical grids.
Other targets include military secrets, economic information, and government foreign policy. A high profile example of how Russia are using their cyber power has been during this year’s presidential election campaign. Russia has used their cyber influence to assist in the release of private information, namely Hilary Clinton’s private emails, into the public domain. They have also used propaganda and espionage to forward the Republican cause.
But Russia are not the only ones that our cyber security forces are keeping their eye on. North Korea and China also pose considerable threats, as China reportedly recently attempted to steal information from a US navy ship, sending a communication impersonating an official message to the ship.
Hackers and Hacktivists
Despite all the investment that the government are putting into cyber security to head off threats before they reach UK residents, new hacking technology is always evolving to counteract security measures. In fact, over a million types of malware are developed on a daily basis. A recent innovation was reported in The Guardian in October of this year, where hackers were able to ‘weaponise’ everyday devices (such as webcams and digital recorders) in order to attack websites. Sites that were targeted included Twitter, Paypal, and Spotify. Many hostile foreign actors are looking for monetary gain, but they may also target technology or industrial firms, looking for ways to improve their own hacking technology.
The government’s £1.9 billion will go towards funding improvements to the National Cyber Security Strategy. This will include the provision of specialist police units, and the education and training of cyber security experts. The government is looking to ensure that we have all the necessary defences against any form of attack, and the resources to retaliate effectively. The government has already developed technology which can screen spam and malware before it reaches our devices, but in order to counteract the ever-growing threat there is much more that needs to be done.
Counteracting foreign actors within your organisation
National cyber security relies not only on government investment into MI5 and the National Cyber Security Strategy, but also on UK residents and businesses knowing how to protect themselves. Information on how to ensure your business is safe from both UK based threats and foreign actors can be acquired from the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure. Employees also need to be made aware of the potential damage that loose cyber security can have, as well as the knock-on effect this could have on the UK’s national security. Organisations must also keep up to date with all security innovations available in order to protect themselves against evolving threats.
For more guidance on how to protect your business from cyber security attacks, contact us today.