The UK government has revealed that hostile foreign states have used cyberwarfare to track and attack UK networks. The government would not say exactly what had been attacked, but it is thought that the systems supplying the country with gas, water and electricity were likely to have been targeted. If foreign powers, criminals or other hackers steal information from these targets, it could lead to a serious disruption of services.
Although it had been previously known that “billions of pounds” of intellectual property have been stolen from UK businesses over the last 12 months, this is the first time that the government has admitted that companies which provide “the essential services upon which daily life depends” have also been threatened by and subjected to cyber attacks from abroad.
In April of this year the Guardian newspaper broke the story that there is also concern in the US over the possibility of foreign powers mapping the country’s infrastructure. America named China and Russia as those hostile nations allegedly hacking into the firms that provide services in the US.
Today marks the first anniversary of the UK’s Cyber Security Strategy. Scotland Yard’s e-crime unit has been growing, and two years ago the government set aside £650m to bolster the UK’s cyberdefences, though it has been admitted that the Ministry of Defence is still attacked on a daily basis.
Despite these initiatives, the Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, said that the country does yet take the threat of cyberwarfare seriously enough. “The UK as a whole needs to become more cyber-savvy,” he said. “IT has become endemic to how we live and yet today most of us still do not understand what is behind the screen.” He will today announce a series of new measures to be taken to protect individuals and businesses from cyberscams and attempts to hack into the country’s secret trade information.
Sources include: The Guardian
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