Cybersecurity and Ransomware in the UK Today

Cybersecurity is a major challenge at a global and national level, a challenge which is constantly evolving and growing as our digital economy expands.  

Dealing effectively with cybercrime demands close collaboration across corporate and governmental boundaries, as well as sustained focus within individual countries and organisations on developing and maintaining defence in depth against cyber threats.

This blog focuses on how the UK is coping with the cyber threat. It considers the growth in ransomware attacks, the measures the UK government has implemented and planned, how these relate to the international community, state-sponsored and other cross-border threats, and how the government is advising organisations in critical sectors such as supply chain and health services to protect themselves.

It looks at Zero Trust Security as a means of securing supply chain networks, and how supply chain experts Coliance can help with a Zero Trust strategy.

How is Cybercrime impacting the UK today?

UK supply chain enterprises face a range of threats, from specifically targeted attacks, to broader attacks on critical software and infrastructure such as the Solarwinds hack, and the knock-on impacts of attacks disrupting dependent links in the global supply chain.   

On 25th October 2021, the Guardian newspaper quoted the head of the UK’s GCHQ saying that UK ransomware attacks have doubled in one year.

As recently as September 2021, leading UK engineering firm Weir was hit by a ransomware attack incurring estimated £5m costs.    

With ransomware on the rise, other forms of attack are still disrupting business. In October 2021 UK internet phone providers were hit by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack that impacted services and incurred significant costs.

While state and other actors use a range of cyber techniques to disrupt or harvest data, ransomware has become a major global business. The BBC recently reported on the Russian hacking group, Evil Corp, several of whose members appear on the FBI most wanted list, which has allegedly stolen or extorted more than £74m in hacks affecting 40 different countries.

What is the UK Government doing about it?

Governments worldwide have long recognised cyber a key risk to political and economic security at a national and global level, and are taking action accordingly.

The UK government set up the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in 2016 to deliver safeguards and measures to reduce risk at a national level, to provide advice and support to organisations in adopting effective cybersecurity measures, and to provide assistance to organisations when they are attacked. This year it will launch a new national Cyber Security Strategy.

In a recent speech marking her first year as head of the NCSC,  Lindy Cameron touched on how the NCSC is engaging with the international community on responses to shared areas of concern around cyber – the effects of the Covid pandemic in creating new opportunities and vulnerabilities for cyber criminals, the rise of the ransomware business, the exposure from cyber for already stretched global supply chains, and the challenges of protecting technologies that are increasingly strategically critical to the operation of business and government alike.

Ms Cameron’s speech points out that, while state cyber actors from countries like China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are a significant concern, the vast majority of attacks on UK businesses are criminal, not state-sponsored, and this should be the focus for critical organisations in the UK. 

Advice to Critical Organisations

The NCSC offers extensive specific advice and guidance to critical organisations such as supply chain and health service providers on how to safeguard against cyberattacks.

The advice highlights the critical importance of

  • Treating cybersecurity as a business issue rather than a technical one
  • Creating and maintaining a business cyber strategy that is updated and evolves as threats change
  • Developing cyber resilience through structured layers of measures to prevent, detect and recover from attacks
  • Planning on the basis that a successful attack is very likely.

Evolving Cyber strategy - the power of Zero Trust Security

Critical organisations are increasingly recognising that the traditional castle and moat IT security model is often inadequate in countering today’s threats, and starting to move towards the emerging zero trust model instead.

Castle and moat security places protection around the IT perimeter of an organisation, allowing more or less free access once inside. This makes it vulnerable to many current attack vectors which have learned how to get past perimeter security undetected and sit inside the perimeter, gathering intelligence so they can target and maximise the impact of a later attack.

Zero trust replaces this model with one where all interactions, including those within the perimeter are regarded as untrusted, providing an extra layer of protection.     

This is explored in detail in an earlier blog post

How Coliance can help

At Coliance, we have extensive experience and expertise in creating effective supply chain solutions for our clients, and we can help your business develop resilient cyber security against ransomware and other cyber threats. 

As an IBM Gold Business Partner, we leverage the value of IBM Sterling solutions from secure file gateways to SFTP, the established industry standard capabilities of MQ messaging, and the power of effective API integration management cloud solutions to deliver the secure, future-ready B2B solutions our clients require.       


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