ISC Russia Report – CISO Comments On Cyber Attacks Facing Government

Today, the ISC has released its Russia Report, which found that the UK is a target for Russian disinformation and Russia carries out malicious cyber activity in order to assert itself aggressively – for example, attempting to interfere in other countries’ elections and targeting on other countries’ Critical National Infrastructure. The ISC expresses concern that there is no clear coordination of the numerous organisations across the UK intelligence community working on this issue.

Experts Comments

July 22, 2020
Michael Barragry
Operations Lead and Security Consultant
Edgescan
In light of the information uncovered by the Russia report, UK enterprises and governmental agencies should ensure that their existing security practices are enforced to the letter. State-sponsored cyber-attacks are typically very well-resourced and can be planned in advance for months before they are executed. Education of staff is critical, as humans are often the weakest link in any security chain. It is certainly not unlikely and wouldn’t come as a surprise if Russian actors were already .....Read More
In light of the information uncovered by the Russia report, UK enterprises and governmental agencies should ensure that their existing security practices are enforced to the letter. State-sponsored cyber-attacks are typically very well-resourced and can be planned in advance for months before they are executed. Education of staff is critical, as humans are often the weakest link in any security chain. It is certainly not unlikely and wouldn’t come as a surprise if Russian actors were already inside the network of several public and private organisations. As far as tackling disinformation is concerned, unfortunately, there is a high dependency on the big tech platforms here. Articles can be shared and spread easily across social media, and can be given fake boosts in visibility with bot-farms of likes and upvotes. The lines between protecting the population and censorship can become quite blurred.  Read Less
July 22, 2020
Sam Curry
Chief Security Officer
Cybereason
Not only do the findings in the report smack of a lack of transparency, but it’s also confusing to the public and reeks of politics. In the end, we should assume involvement by foreign parties in a digital society in any form of governance: and elections and public opinion are both the strength and the Achilles heel of democracy. In the words of Winston Churchill “democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms.” We should expect election interference and be.....Read More
Not only do the findings in the report smack of a lack of transparency, but it’s also confusing to the public and reeks of politics. In the end, we should assume involvement by foreign parties in a digital society in any form of governance: and elections and public opinion are both the strength and the Achilles heel of democracy. In the words of Winston Churchill “democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms.” We should expect election interference and be looking for it and building resilience to it in all pluralist democracies. Democracy demands constant cyber vigilance no less than civic literacy and a willingness to defend constitutions and the rule of law. We have a cadence to democracy, and for the US we are about to hit a crescendo with the biggest of all targets, a Presidential election. It would behoove all countries to watch how elections unfold everywhere to learn the tactics, techniques and procedures of the adversaries because they learn and grow from every election and so should we. Take the politics with a grain of salt and assume it’s happening. Prepare to defend against that, and worst case you’re wrong and nothing happens. The reverse has some truly frightening implications because it will be the equivalent of abdicating the right of the people to choose a government by letting a foreign, hostile power do so instead.  Read Less
July 22, 2020
Joseph Carson
Thycotic
Chief Security Scientist
No one country can win a cyberwar alone and this means it is critical to have international cooperation to defend and respond offensively to aggressive cyberattacks. The UK must adopt a cyber defence league similar to what Estonia introduced after the 2007 cyberattacks and CV19 which involved Cyber Volunteers helping defend the Healthcare services during COVID-19. The UK must bring together both public and industry expertise to defend democracy when under cyberattack and at the same time,.....Read More
No one country can win a cyberwar alone and this means it is critical to have international cooperation to defend and respond offensively to aggressive cyberattacks. The UK must adopt a cyber defence league similar to what Estonia introduced after the 2007 cyberattacks and CV19 which involved Cyber Volunteers helping defend the Healthcare services during COVID-19. The UK must bring together both public and industry expertise to defend democracy when under cyberattack and at the same time, creating an international cyber offensive to incapacitate the origin of cyberattacks. However, it is important that political efforts are prioritized and countries must work together to reduce the safe havens that cybercriminals have operating from countries out of reach from prosecution.  Read Less
July 22, 2020
Tony Cole
CTO
Attivo Networks
It’s been clear for a number of years that the Russians have every intention to continue their efforts to undermine the fabric of Western society. They do this by focusing on a non-stop flow of disinformation campaigns in their targeted countries to sow disinformation to undermine free society foundations and especially hamper free and fair elections. Countries should have a structure in place to strike back in a fair and meaningful manner through offensive cyber actions. This structure.....Read More
It’s been clear for a number of years that the Russians have every intention to continue their efforts to undermine the fabric of Western society. They do this by focusing on a non-stop flow of disinformation campaigns in their targeted countries to sow disinformation to undermine free society foundations and especially hamper free and fair elections. Countries should have a structure in place to strike back in a fair and meaningful manner through offensive cyber actions. This structure should be focused inside government and not allow individual companies to retaliate when impacted by Russian campaigns (or any other country). Calling out Russia publicly has had little effect on them outside of sanctions and even the latter doesn’t seem to curtail this activity. Hitting them in cyberspace where it’s impactful to their society and could help counter Putin’s government is where attention is needed. Organizations attempting to thwart activity from Russia and other nation-states need to step up their game where they detect malicious activity inside their enterprises in quick fashion. Public Service Announcements across media and social media could also help educate the public and help counter disinformation campaigns from foreign sources. It is quite clear that significant action must be taken before foreign efforts to undermine western society have a long-term effect.  Read Less
July 23, 2020
Miles Tappin
VP of EMEA
ThreatConnect
Cyber is a 'complex landscape' in the UK with numerous agencies involved in cyber defence - but it is not immediately clear how they all work together and complement one another, according to the report. The lack of co-ordination and collaboration by organisations across the Intelligence Community is a grave concern and something that nation-state actors look to exploit. As the report indicated, the need for 'greater cohesion' must be addressed in the next iteration of the National.....Read More
Cyber is a 'complex landscape' in the UK with numerous agencies involved in cyber defence - but it is not immediately clear how they all work together and complement one another, according to the report. The lack of co-ordination and collaboration by organisations across the Intelligence Community is a grave concern and something that nation-state actors look to exploit. As the report indicated, the need for 'greater cohesion' must be addressed in the next iteration of the National Cyber Security Strategy. Greater collaboration is needed between UK organisations but there also needs to be closer working relationships with other allied nation-states. Suspicion surrounding the concept of collaborating needs to be surmounted. Nation states need to move towards a unified approach to cybersecurity based on information sharing communities. For any organisation, it's impossible to understand who you adversaries are, what vulnerabilities they are looking to exploit and what methods they are using without a linked-up effort. An ‘all for one, one for all’ approach is the best way forward.”  Read Less
July 21, 2020
Cath Goulding
CISO
Nominet
Today’s ISC report confirms the high risk that all governments face from foreign adversaries in the cyber space, in particular when it comes to efforts to influence elections, spread disinformation, and attacks against critical national infrastructure. It is the ISC’s assessment that the UK Government is “still playing catch up” to these threats and, undoubtedly, this report will prompt government agencies around the world to consider how their country and its citizens could be targeted .....Read More
Today’s ISC report confirms the high risk that all governments face from foreign adversaries in the cyber space, in particular when it comes to efforts to influence elections, spread disinformation, and attacks against critical national infrastructure. It is the ISC’s assessment that the UK Government is “still playing catch up” to these threats and, undoubtedly, this report will prompt government agencies around the world to consider how their country and its citizens could be targeted as well. One of the main recommendations of the report is to establish a central responsibility for a coordinated response to these threats, rather than a “hot potato” approach with no one government body taking the lead. This is aligned with our recommendations for government security - which requires large-scale, national protective interventions, to bring their citizens, businesses and economies a more secure environment. This means that there needs to be a breadth of security across government, all the way down to the local level, which is consistent, cohesive and coordinated. This is critical to ensure a high level of security across all departments, with no weak spots for threat groups to exploit, and greater awareness of the threats facing the UK. Not only will this facilitate a stronger security posture, but also more opportunities for international collaboration to mitigate attacks against governments.  Read Less
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