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British organizations hit by 'complex' cyber attack

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The latest breach is the second major cyber attack to hit UK organizations within two months

A major cyber attack that has hit US government agencies is also believed to have affected a small number of British organizations.

According to Sky News, British officials are “investigating” as to whether government departments have been affected by the big breach.

Hitherto, it is believed only private British companies have been affected.

Paul Chichester, the director of operations at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is an extension of the GCHQ signals intelligence organization, has urged British companies to take “immediate steps” to protect their networks.

"This is a complex, global cyber incident, and we are working with international partners to fully understand its scale and any UK impact", Chichester told Sky News.  

"The NCSC is working to mitigate any potential risk, and actionable guidance has been published on our website", he added.

Meanwhile, one of the directors of a leading British cyber security company has claimed the attacks could be the most “impactful national security [cyber] breach” that has ever been seen.

John Hultquist, who is senior director of analysis at Mandiant Solutions (which is part of the cyber security company FireEye), told Sky News that: “They [the hackers] managed clearly to gain access to a lot of secure areas. They are going to be very hard to get out”.  

FireEye reportedly was the first cyber security company to discover the trans-Atlantic breach.

Yet another major figure in the British cyber security world echoed Hultquist’s assessment by describing the latest breach is “one of the most significant cyber attacks, really that’s ever been seen”.

Ciaran Martin, who is the founder and former head of the NCSC, told Sky News the attack was motivated by “traditional espionage”.  

However, Martin, who is currently an academic at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University, cautioned that “it remains to be seen, what the final picture [about the hacking] tells us”.

US media, in addition to British security sources, have reflexively blamed the hacking on Russia’s foreign intelligence service (SVR) without furnishing any evidence.



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