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Russian hackers target UK’s energy supplies, warns Cabinet Office minister

Russian hackers are targeting Britain’s critical infrastructure with the aim to “disrupt or destroy” it, warns a Cabinet Office minister.

The hacking groups have shifted their focus to the UK in recent months, according to Oliver Dowden, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who will unveil new measures later today to support businesses in defending themselves against cyber attacks.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a part of the UK intelligence agency GCHQ, will issue an official threat alert to critical businesses, including those behind the country’s energy and water supplies.

The NCSC says that the ideologically-motivated groups sympathetic to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are “less predictable” as they are “not subject to formal state control”.

The NCSC warns that the groups have expressed a desire to achieve a more disruptive and destructive impact against Western critical national infrastructure, including in the UK.

The hacking groups, often referred to as a ‘new class’ of Russian hackers, are looking for opportunities to create such an impact, particularly if systems are poorly protected.

The Cabinet minister will announce cyber resilience targets that all critical national infrastructure sectors will have to meet by 2025.

The UK Government is urging businesses to act quickly to protect themselves against the emerging cyber threat.

Dr Marsha Quallo-Wright, NCSC Deputy Director for Critical National Infrastructure, said: “It has become clear that certain state-aligned groups have the intent to cause damage to Critical National Infrastructure organisations and it is important that the sector is aware of this.

“In the wake of this emerging threat, our message to CNI sectors is to take sensible, proportionate steps now to protect themselves.

“The NCSC has produced advice for organisations on steps to take when the cyber threat is heightened, and I would strongly encourage all CNI organisations to follow this now.”

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