“The Committee has been told this year that the threat from cyber attacks ‘is at its highest level ever and is expected to rise further still’, with the identification of ‘new actors and more evidence of serious hostile cyber activity’,” the report reads.
According to the ISC, state actors such as China and Russia pose the greatest threat. However, the committee warns that some states are believed to have hired cyber mercenaries to carry out attacks on their behalf.
“These state-affiliated groups consist of skilled cyber professionals, undertaking attacks on diverse targets such as financial institutions and energy companies. These groups pose a threat in their own right, but it is the combination of their capability and the objectives of their state backers which makes them of particular concern,” the ISC says.
For the time being, terrorist groups are not considered a “credible cyber threat.” However, officials highlight that this might change in the future.
While the ISC is happy with the “well developed” system defenses of the government, a considerable number of attacks have been recorded against government networks, some of which have resulted in data being stolen.
The report states that many government departments have been hit by distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks. In addition, last summer, cybercriminals attempted to steal information from over 200 email accounts across 30 government departments.
“Government departments are also targeted via attacks on industry suppliers which may hold government information on their own systems. We have been told that cyber espionage ‘[has] resulted in MOD data being stolen.’ This has both security and financial consequences for the UK,” the report notes.
A full report by the British Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee can be found here.