New data from a report on the UK threat landscape indicates the country’s emergency services are at risk of a major cyber-attack, which could open the door to terrorist attacks as well. Historically, the sovereign country has had one of the highest rates of malware incidents.
The UK Threat Landscape report explores the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure against threats and possible vulnerabilities. Intelligence firm Anomali, which conducted the research, claims to have found a number of “weak spots” in the UK which could attract cyber attacks, and possibly even terrorist attacks.
The Defence Equipment and Supply Organisation, for example, presents a prime target for actors seeking to disrupt defense procurement. Emergency services don’t fall far behind. Nearly just as vulnerable is the UK’s energy infrastructure, with 21% of all electricity generated by 15 nuclear reactors, all owned by a single entity – EDF Energy.
“This combination of monopoly of ownership and geographic clustering means that the civil nuclear sector is constantly on a high state of alert for a terrorist and cyber-attack,” researchers say.
A number of attacks have already had huge effects on critical infrastructures across the UK. One recent example is the WannaCry ransomware epidemic in May 2017, which forced a third of the UK’s NHS hospitals to shut down operations, putting thousands of lives at risk. Of course, healthcare was not the only industry in the UK affected by the attack.
Critical infrastructure in the UK, as defined by the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, includes such sectors as chemical, civil nuclear, communications, defense, emergency services, energy, finance, food, government, health, space, transport and water.
The UK, with the sixth-largest economy in the world, is a primary target for APT groups, cyber criminals and hacktivists. Analysts believe that Brexit presents geopolitical changes that will further factor into the overall threat landscape for the country.