British firms have been urged to bolster their digital security over concerns of possible Russian cyber-attacks linked to the growing political crisis over the conflict in Ukraine.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a part of the GCHQ intelligence agency, has updated its guidance telling firms to “build resilience and stay ahead of potential threats”.
The NCSC said: “UK organisations are being urged to bolster their cybersecurity resilience in response to malicious cyber-incidents in and around Ukraine.”
The NCSC said that although it was investigating malicious cyber-incidents in Ukraine, “which are similar to a pattern of Russian behaviour seen before in previous situations”, it was not aware of any “specific threats” to UK organisations.
The NCSC is concerned that businesses could be targeted after the UK, US and EU issued warnings to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, against attacking Ukraine after deploying 100,000 troops on its borders.
“While we are unaware of any specific threats to UK organisations in relation to events in Ukraine, we are monitoring the situation closely and it is vital that organisations follow the guidance to ensure they are all resilient,” said Paul Chichester, the director of operations at the NCSC.
A cyber-attack on Ukraine government websites earlier this month warned the public to “be afraid and expect the worst”, which Ukraine said was orchestrated by Russia.
“Over several years, we have observed a pattern of malicious Russian behaviour in cyberspace,” Chichester said. “Last week’s incidents in Ukraine bear the hallmarks of similar Russian activity we have observed before.”
The guidance, which is primarily aimed at larger organisations, comes after the NCSC warned businesses in the UK’s critical national infrastructure – such as energy, water supply, transportation and telecommunications – about specific vulnerabilities Russian hackers have been known to exploit.