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UK warns of emerging cyber threats from Russian-backed threat actors

A UK cabinet minister is set to warn the country of the threat it is facing from “Wagner-like” hacking groups.

user icon David Hollingworth
Wed, 19 Apr 2023
UK warns of emerging cyber threats from Russian-backed threat actors
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The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Secretary of State, Oliver Dowden, will present his dire comments at the CYBERUK conference in Belfast later today (19 April).

“These adversaries are ideologically motivated, rather than financially motivated,” Dowden will say, according to prepared remarks shared with the UK media. “Disclosing this threat is not something we do lightly. But we believe it is necessary … [for] companies to understand the current risk they face, and take action to defend themselves and the country.”

As part of his remarks, Dowden is expected to also announce cyber resilience goals and regulations for businesses in the UK’s critical national infrastructure (CNI) sectors.

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“These are the companies in charge of keeping our country running. Of keeping the lights on,” Dowden will say. “Our shared prosperity depends on them taking their own security seriously.”

The Wagner Group is ostensibly a private military contractor, but it is closely aligned with Russia’s national interests and has borne the brunt of heavy fighting in the current war in Ukraine.

Dowden’s speech comes on the heels of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) releasing its own warning of possible “destructive and disruptive attacks” against CNI in the near future. The NCSC is also concerned about the activities of “state-aligned groups sympathetic to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”.

“It has become clear that certain state-aligned groups have the intent to cause damage to CNI organisations, and it is important that the sector is aware of this,” said Dr Marsha Quallo-Wright, NCSC deputy director for critical national infrastructure.

“In the wake of this emerging threat, our message to CNI sectors is to take sensible, proportionate steps now to protect themselves.

“The NCSC has produced advice for organisations on steps to take when the cyber threat is heightened, and I would strongly encourage all CNI organisations to follow this now.”

The NCSC published “heightened threat guidance for businesses shortly before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.

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