UK firms urged to boost cyber defences amid danger of new Russian attacks

UK firms urged to boost cyber defences amid danger of new Russian attacks
British organisations have been warned to bolster their digital defences (Picture: Getty/Reuters)

Britain’s cyber security centre has urged UK firms to bolster their digital defences amid concern over the possibility of renewed Russian attacks linked to the increasing tensions in Eastern Europe.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has updated its guidance and said it is investigating recent reports of ‘malicious cyber incidents in Ukraine’.

The NCSC said it had not identified any current threats to the UK, but noted its updated guidance would allow organisations ‘to build resilience and stay ahead of potential threats’.

Paul Chichester, the organisation’s director of operations, said: ‘While we are unaware of any specific cyber threats to UK organisations in relation to events in Ukraine, we are monitoring the situation closely and it is vital that organisations follow the guidance to ensure they are resilient.

‘Over several years, we have observed a pattern of malicious Russian behaviour in cyberspace. Last week’s incidents in Ukraine bear the hallmarks of similar Russian activity we have observed before.’

On January 14, Ukraine was hit by what it called a ‘massive cyber-attack’ targeting some 70 government websites.

FILE PHOTO: A??laptop??screen??displays a warning message in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish, that appeared on the official website of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry after a massive cyberattack, in this illustration taken January 14, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/Illustration/File Photo - RC2WYR9TC8TQ
The NCSC said a cyber-attack in Ukraine last week ‘bears the hallmarks of similar Russian activity we have observed before’ (Picture: Reuters)

Speaking to Sky News at the time, Oleksiy Danilov, the president’s top security adviser, said he was ’99.9%’ sure Russia was behind it. The Kremlin has denied responsibility.

The NCSC is helping the Ukrainian government investigate the attack.

It took place amid mounting fears of an invasion by Russia, which has amassed 100,000 troops along the border with its former Soviet neighbour.

The NCSC’s new guidance appears to be designed to ensure UK firms and other organisations are better prepared for the possibility of another attack against Ukraine which then spreads worldwide.

internet security and data protection concept, blockchain and cybersecurity
The new guidance appears to be aimed at ensuring UK firms do not fall victim to another attack in Ukraine which then spreads worldwide (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

It encourages organisations to reduce the risk of falling victim to a cyber-attack by taking ‘actionable’ steps.

These include patching systems, improving access controls and enabling multi-factor authentication, implementing an effective incident response plan, checking that backups and restore mechanisms are working, ensuring that online defences are working as expected, and keeping up to date with the latest threat and mitigation information.

Those organisations who do fall victim to a cyber-attack are asked to report the incident to the NCSC’s incident management team.

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