The global cyber warfare scare washed ashore in the UK this weekend after UK nuclear power stations and airports were told to tighten defenses against terrorist attacks in the face of increased threats to electronic security systems. Intelligence agencies concluded terrorists could plant explosives in laptops and mobile phones that won’t be caught by normal security screenings.
Security services have issued a series of alerts in the past 24 hours, warning that terrorists may have developed ways of bypassing safety checks.
“The prospect of a total ban on laptop computers being carried in hand luggage on all flights to the UK cannot be ruled out, the Home Secretary has made clear.
Last week the Government announced that laptops had to be put in hold baggage on flights to the UK from six predominantly Muslim countries. The ban was imposed because of intelligence on terrorists developing “laptop bombs”.
But Amber Rudd left no doubt that the ban could be extended to more countries when she was questioned on the subject by the BBC’s Andrew Marr.”
There have also been fears that computer hackers were trying to bypass nuclear power station security measures. Government officials have warned that terrorists, foreign spies and “hacktivists” are looking to exploit “vulnerabilities” in the nuclear industry’s internet defense.
“The volume and complexity of cyber-attacks against the UK are growing and the range of actors is widening.” Government officials say that the threat from cyber-attacks is “growing” and add: “These attacks could disrupt supply, damage facilities, delay hazard and risk reduction, and risk adverse impacts to workers, the public or the environment.”
Norman said: “The Government is fully committed to defending the UK against cyber threats, with a £1.9 billion investment designed to transform this country’s cyber security.”
He said the civil nuclear strategy published in February sets out ways to ensure that the civil nuclear sector “can defend against, recover from, and remain resilient to evolving cyber threats”.
United States intelligence officials have warned that groups including ISIS and al-Qaeda may have developed ways to build bombs in laptops and other electronic devices that can fool airport security. There are fears that terrorists made the breakthrough after obtaining airport screening equipment to allow them to experiment.
The US Department of Homeland Security said in a statement: “Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in electronics.
“The US government continually reassesses existing intelligence and collects new intelligence. This allows us to constantly evaluate our aviation security processes and policies and make enhancements when they are deemed necessary to keep passengers safe.”
Manny Gomez, a former FBI special agent, cited by the Telegraph said: “We had the shoe bomber, cartridge attempt, now this is the next level. We need to be several steps ahead of them.”
For now, there have been no affected cyber-terrorists attacks, although and zero hedge put it; few things can redirect public attention and send the world to scramble demanding the “safety of the government” quite like a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant. We can only hope that despite the overt warnings, such an escalation will not take place.