They’ve been dubbed the ‘Threat Hunters’: the Ministry of Defence is stepping up national cybersecurity to meet growing threats from Russian and North Korean hackers.
A new Defence Cyber School has opened at the Defence Academy in Shrivenham with funding from the National Cyber Security Strategy – a Government initiative spending £1.6 billion to keep the UK at the bleeding edge of cyber defence technology.
At the opening of the school, Minister for the Armed Forces, Mark Lancaster, warned of the “constantly evolving” threats to UK security: “That’s why the Defence Cyber School is so important. It’s a state-of-the-art centre of excellence that will train more personnel across Defence and wider government in dealing with emerging threats.”
It makes us WannaCry
Last year NHS departments across the country faced meltdown when their computer systems became a victim of the May 2017 WannaCry attack.
A North Korean ransomware cryptoworm disabled thousands of NHS computers, locking records and stopping Accident and Emergency systems from processing new patients.
Help yourself: How to avoid ransomware
The attack affected over 200,000 Windows devices across 150 countries, and demanded Bitcoin ransoms to release corrupted records.
Despite the severity and urgency of the WannaCry threat, both UK and international defence agencies failed to stop the worm’s spread. Instead, the attack was halted accidentally by a researcher from a small cybersecurity firm as he routinely investigated the software.
Rapid, rapider, rapidest
The MOD has announced the upcoming establishment of “Rapid Response Teams” to counter emergency situations, such as WannaCry, and prevent widespread damage to national systems.
Late last year the National Cyber Security Centre warned the public against using Kaspersky antivirus programs for fear they were linked to Russian state-sponsored spying.
Cyberattacks present as much of a threat to national security as any military force.
As well as actively destabilising vital services, hack attacks can compromise critical data and empower the intelligence communities of hostile states.
Going on the offensive
The MOD ‘spy school’ will also train personnel in “offensive cyber” – creating malicious software themselves to attack “serious threats” to the UK.
It appears that we are entering an age of cyber warfare, and a ‘land, sea, and air’ military is no longer enough to protect the country.
It is important to remember that the internet has connected us to our enemies, as well as our friends – and that it remains a largely undefended front.
General Sir Chris Deverell, Commander of Joint Forces Command, gave words of assurance: “Defence has a number of very highly-trained military personnel on hand to deal with emerging and complex cyber threats.
“Our threat-hunters give us the ability to identify, isolate and respond to these threats, whenever and wherever they might arise.”
From April, Threat Hunters will begin deployment at key locations across the UK and overseas.