The United Kingdom’s (UK) government is at high risk of a “catastrophic ransomware attack” due to a lack of focus and funding, in a stark warning from a parliamentary report.
As reported by The Record, the government has been accused by the nation’s Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy (JCNSS) of not effectively planning to prevent a large-scale cyber attack that could “bring the country to a standstill.”
The news will add more pressure onto Prime Minister Rishi Sunak who is currently under heavy scrutiny on matters of illegal immigration. He breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday after his key Rwanda bill passed its first Commons hurdle but further challenges will be presented in the new year.
The parliamentary report was highly critical of the former Home Secretary Suella Braverman for failing to address the ransomware threat:
“We found that the Home Office’s public output on cyber security and ransomware has been almost nonexistent, and has been dwarfed by its focus on small boats and illegal migration,” the JCNSS said.
UK failing to invest sufficiently in cyber security
Any potential attack is likely to be aimed at the UK’s critical national infrastructure (CNI) which consists of national assets that keep the country running, including energy supply, water supply, health, transport and telecommunications.
In recent times, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has been targeted which saw patient data fall into the hands of cyber attackers and a council in the North of England was crippled for more than two weeks, as outlined by the Guardian.
In the response, the JNCSS has recommended that the responsibility for ransomware should be taken away from the Home Office and put within the remit of the Cabinet Office, in conjunction with the National Cyber Security Centre and the National Crime Agency “to be overseen directly by the Deputy Prime Minister, as part of a holistic approach to cyber security and resilience.”
The government will be aware of the threat posed by these forms of cyber attacks and the damage that can be caused, but unless it acts appropriately, it will see the UK remain in a vulnerable position. This was reflected in the joint committee report with one of its findings damning the government which “knows that the possibility of a major ransomware attack is high, yet it is failing to invest sufficiently to prevent catastrophic costs later on.”
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