Ukraine invasion fuels cyber attack warning to UK firms

hacker-2300772_1920British businesses are bracing themselves for a barrage of retaliatory Russian cyber attacks, following Vladimir Putin’s orders to invade Ukraine, with the boss of Lloyds Banking Group insisting the business has been put on a “heightened alert”.

Preparation for potential attacks was discussed in a meeting between the Government and banking industry leaders yesterday, Lloyds chief executive Charlie Nunn has said, although he conceded “we’ve been focused on this for quite a while”.

The move comes as UK interior minister Priti Patel maintained that Britain is working had to stem such attacks. She posted on Twitter: “As we monitor developments, we will be especially mindful of the potential for cyber attacks and disinformation emanating from Russia. Be in no doubt there is work ongoing across government 24/7 to maximise our resilience to any such attacks, which would be met with a suitably robust response.”

Earlier this week, GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) urged UK organisations to “bolster their online defences” and warned that there has been an “historical pattern of cyber attacks on Ukraine with international consequences”.

Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has insisted the UK will launch cyber attacks on Russia if it targets Britain’s computer networks, and that an “offensive cyber capability” was being developed from a base in North West England.

The Financial Conduct Authority has also written to the chief executives of UK banks warning them to brace for Russian-sponsored cyber attacks and to ensure their security systems are updated.

The warnings come as the Ukraine government says many banks and government departments have been hit by a fresh wave of cyber-attacks, which are “on a completely different level”.

At the same time a new “wiper” attack, which destroys data on infected machines, was discovered being used against Ukrainian organisations. The incident represents the third wave of attacks against Ukraine this year, and the most sophisticated to date.

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