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Head of World Energy Council Warns of the Risk of Cyber Attacks

Christopher Frei, head of the World Energy Council, voiced his concerns in an interview by CityAM around the risk to Britain’s energy infrastructure from cyber attacks.

Mr Frei gave his views on the scale of the cyber security threat to energy infrastructure in the UK, following an incident in December in which hackers disabled the electricity supply to tens of thousands of people in western Ukraine.

CityAM also quoted Ewan Lawson, a Senior Research fellow in military influence at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies. Mr Lawson stated that nations with the capability for these kinds of attacks are “China, Russia, possibly Iran, Israel and the US” and that if UK-Russian relations continue to degrade, it is feasible that Russia could encourage non-state actors to act on its behalf, much as they seem to have done in Ukraine.

The recently published Symantec Internet Security Threat Report revealed an organisational shift by cybercriminals, in which they have become more professional and better organised, which suggests that these newly organised and efficient groups will be able to operate on their own.

Former Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox MP added: “This is not a theoretical risk but a very real threat”. The Government reiterated its commitment to building the UK’s sovereign cyber capabilities, and to reducing the risk posed to UK plc through the Home Office’s Modern Crime Prevention Strategy.

Mr Frei believes that not enough is being done to deal with threats that could result in blackouts, leaked customer information, or even the redirection of company salaries. Mr Frei stated that the world is currently in “the stone age of cyber security” and that it will only be after the first major incident that we will begin to learn more about vulnerabilities and how to solve these.

Mr Frei’s comments reflect the findings of the World Energy Council’s Annual Report

Tech UK Cyber Essentials workshop is set for the 16th of June, and is a way for companies and organisations to learn how to improve cyber security and reduce their vulnerability to cyber attacks.

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