Russian hackers ‘targeted UK energy network’, cyber security chief confirms

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
The head of the National Cyber Security Centre claims Moscow is “seeking to undermine the international system” (Rex)

A British cyber security chief has claimed that Russian hackers targeted the UK energy network, telecoms and the media over the past year.

Ciaran Martin – the head of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – is set to tell tech chiefs that Moscow is “seeking to undermine the international system” and its activities are a “cause for concern”.

The stark warning comes after Theresa May accused Vladimir Putin’s state of “meddling” in elections and spreading fake news in an attempt to “sow discord in the West”.

Speaking at the Times Tech Summit in London, Mr Martin will say: “I can’t get into precise details of intelligence matter, but I can confirm that Russian interference, seen by the National Cyber Security Centre over the past year, has included attacks on the UK media, telecommunications and energy sectors.”

Russian hackers are claimed to have targeted Britain’s energy network (Rex)

He will add: “Russia is seeking to undermine the international system. That much is clear.

“The PM made the point on Monday night – international order as we know it is in danger of being eroded.”

The NCSC is “actively engaging” international partners, industry and civil society to tackle the threat, he will say.

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Mr Martin’s warning comes after summer’s power grid hack, which saw experts from spy service GCHQ called in to flush out ‘sleeper’ worms.

It is thought that hackers intended to lie dormant inside the energy network so that they could cause significant damage at a later date.

Since its launch last year, the NCSC has blocked tens of millions of cyber attacks and responded to 590 incidents – including the WannaCry attack which hit the NHS.

Theresa May accused Putin’s state of “meddling” in elections and spreading fake news (Rex)

That attack has been blamed on hackers linked to North Korea, but it is Russia which Whitehall is most concerned about.

On Monday night, the Prime Minister told Russian president Putin “we know what you are doing” and insisted he would not succeed.

Attacking Moscow at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at the City of London’s Guildhall, Mrs May accused the Kremlin of being behind “a sustained campaign of cyber espionage and disruption”.