Military operations are now expanding across five different domains: land, sea, air, space and cyberspace. In recent years, the UK has come under attack several times by hacker groups, previously thought to have been independent entities.
Hackers responsible for recent global cyber attacks have been identified from GRU's Unit 26165: the Russian Main Intelligence directorate, Russia’s largest foreign intelligence agency, also known as APT 28. These are the same hackers believed to have influenced the US presidential election by hacking The Democratic National Committee.
At one point, it was believed the UK has suffered 49 cyber attacks by the GRU in just six months. With recent attacks revealing the UK’s vulnerability to cyber crime, what do the recent cyber attacks mean for UK Defence?
A report from the Commons Defence Committee suggests that GRU forces possess more adaptability than their UK counterparts, able to operate independently of higher command in the event of a communications blackout.
If this is the case, current UK cyber defences may be inadequate in the event of foreign disruption. More dynamic contingencies will allow for faster reactions. Splitting networks into smaller, self-contained systems is one way to protect UK Defence and businesses from losing everything in the event of a cyber hack.
The UK government has invested £1.9 billion to attempt to achieve complete security by 2021. This strategy is designed to protect people, businesses, and assets such as the NHS, which was attacked back in 2017. The National Cyber Security Centre has also been opened to compliment GCHQ in defending the UK against cyber threats.
Since its work began in October 2016, the NCSC has responded to over 800 incidents and its Active Cyber Defence has prevented the sending of 54million malicious emails imitating government communications.
But as cyber warfare becomes more common, the UK must continuously invest in cyber defences to match the rising capabilities of weaponised technology.
UK Defence will need to hire more cyber security specialists across all fields and sectors. The average cost of malicious data breaches is around $11 million, and data breaches will only become more likely and more expensive. Governments and businesses alike will need strong defences to keep their data safe. This will mean an influx of specialists, and it will be more important than ever to ensure they’re as qualified as they say they are. Hiring only the best cyber security specialists will be the difference between fending off a hack and suffering a data breach.
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