LONDON (AP) — Russian hackers are seeking to “disrupt or destroy” Britain’s critical infrastructure and not enough is being done to stop them, U.K. government officials said Wednesday.
Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre issued an official threat notice to operators of Britain’s electricity, water and other critical systems, telling them to boost their defenses.
“I don’t think we are yet doing enough to protect our infrastructure from the cyber threats emerging from Russia-aligning groups,” the center’s chief, Lindy Cameron, said.
Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden said the threat comes from hackers sympathetic to Russia though not necessarily directed by the Russian state. He described them as the cyber equivalent of the Wagner Group, the private Russian company with mercenaries fighting in Ukraine.
He said that while the alleged hackers currently lack the capacity to do widespread damage to U.K. systems, the threat is growing.
“Disclosing this threat is not something we do lightly,” but it’s necessary for “companies to understand the current risk they face, and take action to defend themselves and the country,” Dowden said at a cybersecurity conference in Belfast.
“These are the companies in charge of keeping our country running. Of keeping the lights on,” he said. “Our shared prosperity depends on them taking their own security seriously.”
The National Cyber Security Centre, a branch of U.K. cyber intelligence agency GCHQ, said cyber attackers could begin to broaden their focus from Ukraine to the wider West as the war drags on.
Cameron also sounded a warning about the “dramatic rise of China as a technology superpower."
“What I’m saying about China is that China is, as we say in the integrated review, an epoch-defining threat,” she told British broadcaster Sky News. “The scale and pace of their ambition and technology is something that all of the people here at the conference need to take seriously and think about how it is that we build security into our future technology to keep our people safe.”