Call for vigilance as UK comes second in global table for major cyber attacks

A Yorkshire academic has called for greater public vigilance to thwart cyber criminals after a survey revealed that the UK has recorded the second highest global number of major cyber attacks since 2006.

Professor Adam Beaumont

Professor Adam Beaumont, the professor of cyber security at the University of Leeds, said attacks have been rising as the world deals with the pandemic.

He added: “For example, phone numbers, such as the one used for COVID 19 track and trace, can be spoofed, creating new avenues for attack.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

“Whenever there is a crisis there is an opportunity.”

The research by Specops Software found that the US experienced the most cyber attacks classified as “significant” between May 2006 and June 2020, with 156 incidents.

The UK is in second position in the global table, having been victim to 47 significant cyber attacks over the same period.

One of the 47 incidents was the large-scale cyber attack deployed across the Labour Party’s digital platforms during the 2019 general election, Specops said.

Significant cyber attacks are defined as cyber attacks on a country’s government agencies, defence and hi-tech companies, or economic crimes with losses equating to more than a million dollars.

India comes third in the table, after suffering 23 significant cyber attacks, while Germany is in fourth spot, having faced 21 substantial cyber attacks between May 2006 and June 2020.

The consumer group Which? has warned UK residents to be wary of scammers pretending to be from the NHS after coronavirus contact tracing launched in the UK.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said the public had sent it 600,000 scam emails since the start of the pandemic.

Which? has called on consumers to contact Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre which works with the police, if they encounter suspicious activity.

Ollie Bone, the Cyber Lead at Tech Nation, the network for tech entrepreneurs, said “In the UK, the rise in online attacks is naturally cause for great concern.

"Whether from the financial cost of cyber attacks, or the risks posed to infrastructure from the National Grid to NHS - a “cyber-kinetic” attack of which WannaCry famously had the unintended impact of taking down swathes of the NHS services.

“The response by the public and private sectors to combat the increasing levels of threats has been impressive; across the whole of the UK are numerous examples of the ‘quadruple helix’ – the corporates, startups, government and academia - coming together to solve cyber security threats.

“I am extremely excited about both the world leading nature of the UK’s cyber security capabilities which will protect businesses and individuals now and in the future, and also the commercial potential for UK cyber security businesses which will go on to serve not only UK, but the whole world.”

Darren James, of Specops Software, said nobody can rest on their laurels when it comes to cyber security.

He added: “This research highlights the frequency of cyber attacks which have devastatingly affected key political, social and economic institutions within different countries.”

Data compiled by Cybersecurity Ventures indicates that cybercrime will cost the global economy $6 trillion a year by 2021.

The Specops Software findings are based on data from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The study in full can be found here:

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.

And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshire’s National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.

Postal subscription copies can be ordered by calling 0330 4030066 or by emailing [email protected] Vouchers, to be exchanged at retail sales outlets - our newsagents need you, too - can be subscribed to by contacting subscriptions on 0330 1235950 or by visiting where you should select The Yorkshire Post from the list of titles available.

If you want to help right now, download our tablet app from the App / Play Stores. Every contribution you make helps to provide this county with the best regional journalism in the country.

Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson