A serious UK cyber-attack is case of “when, not if.”

No primary category set

A major cyber-attack in the UK, that could impact banks and government systems, and perhaps also commercial websites is inevitable according to the head of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre. He said it’s a case of “when, not if.”

In an interview with the Guardian, Ciaran Martin explained that he thought a major cyber-attack is a very strong possibility in the next two years. He said: “I think it is a matter of when, not if and we will be fortunate to come to the end of the decade without having to trigger a category one attack.” Whilst admitting that total protection was impossible, he added: “Some attacks will get through. What you need to do is cauterise the damage.”

“Most comparable western countries have experienced what we would consider a category one attack so we have been fortunate in avoiding that to date. What we have seen over the past year or so is a shift in North Korean attack motivation from what you might call statecraft – disrupting infrastructure – through to trying to get money through attacks on banks but also the deployment of ransomware, albeit in a way that didn’t pan out in the way the attackers wanted to.” Other threats could come from China, Iran and Russia.

But is there a possibility that major online marketplaces could be vulnerable to an attack? It seems possible. Bringing down the likes of Amazon or eBay (or Facebook or Google, for that matter) would be a major success for nefarious parties. Hopefully though, their protections will be sufficient to repel an attack.

And it isn’t just scaremongering to imagine the disruption that a successful attack on ecommerce would mean. Not only would the likely publicly owned company take a massive hit on the stock markets but many small firms would be adversely impacted.

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