U.K. echoes Biden warning on Russian cyberattacks
The United Kingdom’s top cyber authority on Tuesday backed the Biden administration’s call for vigilance and beefed up security against potential Russian digital attacks as Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine grinds to a stalemate.
“In heightened periods of international tension all organisations should be vigilant to cyber risks, and for several months the NCSC has been advising organisations to bolster their cyber security,” the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said in a statement.
While the NCSC is “unaware of specific, targeted threats to the U.K. resulting from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine” the organization recommended entities follow previously published advice on how to better protect their networks and systems against hackers.
The declaration comes the day after President Joe Biden warned that "evolving intelligence" suggests Russia is exploring options for potential cyberattacks targeting U.S. critical infrastructure.
“The magnitude of Russia's cyber capacity is fairly consequential and it's coming,” Biden told members of the Business Roundtable, adding Moscow has a “very sophisticated cyber capability.
Russian President Vladimir Putin “hasn’t used it yet, but it's part of his playbook,” he added.
Biden suggested members have a “patriotic obligation” to invest in their cybersecurity.
“We’re prepared to help you, as I said, with any tools and expertise we possess, if you’re ready to do that. But it’s your decision as to the steps you’ll take and your responsibility to take them, not ours,” according to Biden.
Earlier on Monday, Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, said that while there is no evidence of any specific digital threat right now, U.S. officials have observed "preparatory work" — such as scanning websites and hunting for vulnerabilities — linked to nation-state actors.
National security leaders have long provided numerous warnings to the private sector and the general public about the dangers posed by Russian hackers, though the pace has ratcheted up since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine last month.
“Notwithstanding these repeated warnings, we continue to see adversaries compromising systems that use known vulnerabilities for which there are patches,” Neuberger said during a White House press briefing. “That makes it far easier for attackers than it needs to be.”
In a statement, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency chief Jen Easterly promised her organization would “continue working closely with our federal and industry partners to monitor the threat environment 24/7 and we stand ready to help organizations respond to and recover from cyberattacks.”
Martin Matishak is a senior cybersecurity reporter for The Record. He spent the last five years at Politico, where he covered Congress, the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community and was a driving force behind the publication's cybersecurity newsletter.