A “whole of society” approach to cyber security is needed to protect the UK amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, a Government minister will warn.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay is expected to tell the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) CyberUK conference in Newport, Wales, on Wednesday that Russia still poses a significant threat to the UK.
He will warn one major Russian-based organised crime cyber group has been behind failed ransomware attempts in the UK to steal personal data in order to exchange it for a ransom payment, with 53 victim reports in the past year.
Mr Barclay, the minister responsible for cyber security, is due to say: “It is vital that we adopt a ‘whole of society’ approach to cyber security.
“It’s a job for us all. Preserving our core values of democracy and free speech while keeping people safe online – as we are doing through our Online Safety Bill – depends on the UK having robust cyber defences.
“We will achieve these by harnessing our collective strengths and acting as one. It is for this reason that our National Cyber Strategy treats the cyber domain no longer as a niche concern simply for the IT team – but as a wide-ranging grand initiative.
“Responsible, durable, effective cyber power cannot be achieved by government alone; we want to see industry, universities, schools and individual citizens getting involved.”
Mr Barclay is to say the “greatest cyber crime threat to the UK” will come from ransomware attacks – a form of malware that encrypts a victim’s files.
He will continue: “While attempted attacks are concerning, we can draw positives. Our controls quickly spotted them. And in deploying rapid incident responses, we cull useful evidence to share with the wider sector, helping mitigate against similar-style attacks.
“By following cyber essentials guidance, we will all be better protected against attacks. Together, the whole of society can make the UK a responsible, democratic and well-protected cyber power – taking full advantage of the very best that cyber has to offer.”
It comes after Sir Jeremy Fleming said the current “serious global economic situation” means “the need to make the UK the safest place to live and do business online is ever more relevant”.
The GCHQ director had said the UK must continue to focus on cyber criminals and other bad actors who are constantly adapting their tactics in an effort to make money through illegal activities.
He said the National Cyber Force (NCF) – a partnership between GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence – has been working to “disrupt” cyber crime and has done so on an “immense scale”.
He also warned that the UK and other countries who are standing with Ukraine against Russia’s ongoing invasion must continue to boost their own cyber security capabilities.
He said GCHQ has seen indications that “Russia’s cyber operatives continue to look for targets in countries which oppose their actions”.
“There’s plenty of cyber about, including a range of activity we and partners have attributed to Russia,” he said.
“We’ve seen what looks like some spillover of activity affecting other countries.
“That’s why we have increased our efforts to ensure UK businesses and Government urgently improve levels of cyber resilience.
“And why, with our allies, we will continue to support Ukraine in shoring up their cyber defences.”
Speaking at the two-day cyber security conference, the intelligence chief said the UK is constantly working at domestic level to protect the public and businesses from cyber criminals.
It came as the NCSC revealed that it helped stop a record 2.7 million online scams during 2021 – four times the number in the previous year.
The cyber security body said the rise was the result of the organisation expanding its services to tackle a broader range of scams, including fake celebrity endorsements, rather than an overall increase in malicious content targeting the UK public.
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