Britain braces for Russian cyber warfare targeting transport links, water supplies, hospitals and airports



Vladimir_Putin_Photo_AP

The UK Mirror reported that Britain is braced for a wave of crippling cyber attacks in Russian retaliation for the Syrian missile strikes. Here is an excerpt:

"Vital transport links, water supplies, gas networks, banks, hospitals and air traffic control could be targeted following the joint assault on Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons compounds on Friday night.

Experts believe hackers in Moscow are already trying to break into key computer networks that could bring the UK’s infrastructure to a halt.

Vladimir Putin had warned Russia would respond to assaults on Syria with “missile attacks against opposition forces and military positions of the US special forces.”

But intelligence experts believe the most likely response would be through covert cyber warfare. And that will be backed up by an avalanche of fake news planted by Moscow online trolls – and a major increase in the number of Russian spies in Britain.

Just days ago Ciaran Martin, director of the National Cyber Security Centre – set up by the UK Government to provide advice and support for the public and private sector in avoiding computer security threats – revealed the threat of a cyber assault had been ramped up to its highest level.

He added: “The NCSC will be on high alert and trying to do everything in its power to frustrate or prevent an attack.” Britain’s secret eavesdropping station GCHQ is also believed to be patrolling the web ready to give early warnings of incursions.

Counter-terrorism and defense expert Professor Michael Clarke, ex-director of defense and security think tank RUSI, said yesterday: “I suspect Russia will choose not to respond in military terms.

Syria-Bombing-map

 

“But cyber warfare is highly likely. A Russian attack in the next two to three weeks is a high threat. And it will be an attack on national infrastructure, not just upsetting city firms, but getting inside the transport system, or the health system, or air traffic control.

Last month military intelligence chief General Sir Chris Deverell warned Russia has developed the capacity to cripple Britain by hijacking control systems at airports. But security chiefs mainly fear a “category one” assault that would target vital infrastructure like energy grids and financial services.

Attacks could cause electricity cuts, while hackers could also tamper with computer controlled valves or disable pumps to stop water supplies.

The Russians could cause havoc within our already stressed NHS. Last year patients were told not to attend hospitals unless it was “essential” after they were hit by a cyber attack.

Putin’s payback is inevitable after Britain, the US and France were galvanized into military action following chlorine gas and nerve agent attacks in Douma last week, killing at least 70 people, including young children.

Tonight the Pentagon said a “disinformation campaign” had been launched in the aftermath of the air assaults. Chief spokeswoman Dana White said: “There has been a 2,000 per cent increase in Russian trolls in the past 24 hours.”

Fake profiles on sites including Twitter and Facebook are being used to share false stories about the air strikes."

Similar attacks could be launched on U.S. infrastructure by the GRU, Russia's Army main intelligence agency.

I have said it before and I'm saying it again: We are dealing with cyber warfare here, and IT pros are in the front lines.

Make sure you have weapons-grade backups, patch religiously, and step users through new-school security awareness training.

 

 

Topics: cyber warfare

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