Britain’s new cybersecurity chief of Government Communications Headquarters, Ciaran Martin, said in an interview with The Sunday Times that the UK was struck by 188 cyber attacks over the last three months by Russia and China-sponsored hackers threatening national security by stealing defence and foreign policy secrets and intervene in the democratic process.
National Cyber Security Centre (NSC) said that there has been a “step change in Russian aggression in cyberspace” over the past couple of years. Each month around 60 significant cyber-attacks knock down Britain, said Martin. NSC is investigating the attacks by Russian and Chinese state-sponsored hackers.
The info-stealing raids are designed to “extract information on UK government policy on anything from energy to diplomacy to information on a particular sector,” said, Martin.
The Cold War may be over, but the cyberwar between Russia and the West is hotting up.
Martin also warned that the UK had experienced hacking attempts similar to those that infiltrated the Democratic National Committee and led to the leaking of sensitive emails which some claim helped Donald Trump to win the race to the White House.
“Part of that step change has been a series of attacks on political institutions, political parties, parliamentary organisations and that’s all very well evidenced by our international partners and widely accepted,” said, Martin.
His comments came as the chancellor, Philip Hammond, told the Sunday Telegraph the centre had blocked 34,550 “potential attacks” on government departments and members of the public in the past six months – about 200 cases a day.
Concern has been growing about the amount of so-called fake news coming from Russian media outlets which are seen as being a concerted disinformation campaign by the Kremlin to disrupt world politics, including in the UK.
An attempt to disrupt the 2015 general election was thwarted by GCHQ in a cyber attack the security service said was the first of its kind.