UK cybersecurity leaders to debate ransomware threat in Parliament

Leaders from the UK cybersecurity industry are set to gather in Parliament to discuss the UK’s readiness to defend itself against the growing threat posed by ransomware.

UK Parliament and Big Ben with data points

Leaders from the UK cybersecurity industry are set to gather in Parliament to discuss the UK’s readiness to defend itself against the growing threat posed by ransomware. The event, titled Cyber – The Next Threat, will be chaired by former business minister Dean Russell MP and will feature an expert panel to discuss the biggest cyberthreats facing the UK.

Among those speaking are cybersecurity veteran Nicko van Someren, CTO at Absolute Software; Oseloka Obiora, CTO of RiverSafe; Chris Cheyne, CTO at SecurityHQ; and Robin Brattel, CEO of Lab-1. Topics under discussion will include protecting businesses from hackers and ransomware attacks. The summit comes in the wake of significant recent ransomware attacks against UK organisations including Royal Mail, The Guardian, and the NHS, as well as 14 schools.

Protecting UK companies from ransomware attacks a top priority

As the threat of ransomware continues to grow, developing a clear strategy both for protecting companies from crippling ransomware attacks and for their recovery in the event of an attack, should be top priorities, commented van Someren ahead of the event next Monday, March 13. “The rise of remote and hybrid working has also given hackers new routes to enter companies undetected. Tackling these threats requires collaboration between the cyber industry, the government, and businesses to ensure the highest standards are in place to protect data and keep cybercriminals locked out.”

Ransomware still a major threat to UK businesses

A spate of ransomware attacks against businesses in both the private and public sectors have shown that ransomware remains a top threat for UK companies. In January, the Royal Mail Group Ltd. suffered a ransomware attack by notorious threat group LockBit which left it unable to despatch items including letters and parcels to overseas destinations.

In the same week, UK media giant The Guardian confirmed that it suffered a ransomware attack in December that exposed the personal data of UK staff members and forced the company to close its London office until February. The Guardian Media Group’s chief executive, Anna Bateson, and The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, confirmed the news in an update emailed to staff. The pair described the attack, which took place on December 20, 2022, as “highly sophisticated,” involving unauthorised third-party access to parts of the company’s network, most likely triggered by a phishing attempt in which a victim was tricked into downloading malware.

Furthermore, more than a dozen UK schools suffered a cyberattack which led to highly confidential documents being leaked online by cybercriminal group Vice Society, known for disproportionately targeting the education sector with ransomware attacks in the UK and other countries. In August 2022, an attack against an NHS IT service provider caused havoc, forcing several key services, including those used for patient check-ins, medical notes, and NHS 111, offline for weeks.

Earlier in the year, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) joined partners in the U.S. and Australia to warn of an increase in sophisticated, high-impact ransomware incidents against organisations – particularly those in the global critical infrastructure sector. The joint advisory revealed the growing technological complexity of ransomware operations with cybercriminals adopting increasingly professional tactics. Businesses were urged to take protective action to bolster resilience and mitigate ransomware threats.

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