UK Home Office is ignoring the risk of ‘catastrophic ransomware attacks,’ report warns

Pierluigi Paganini December 13, 2023

A Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy (JCNSS) warns of the high risk of a catastrophic ransomware attack on the UK government.

The British government is accused of failing to mitigate the risk of ransomware attacks. According to a parliamentary report published by the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy (JCNSS) the UK government can face a ‘catastrophic ransomware attack at any moment.’

The report highlighted the superficial approach to cyber security of Suella Braverman, former Home Secretary.

“We found that the Home Office’s public output on cyber security and ransomware has been almost nonexistent, and has been dwarfed by its focus on small boats and illegal migration,” states JCNSS, as reported by TheRecord media.

“The UK has the dubious distinction of being one of the world’s most cyber-attacked nations. It is clear to the Committee that the Government’s investment in and response to this threat are not equally world-beating.” said Dame Margaret Beckett, the chair of the JCNSS.

The report states that the government is ignoring the enormous impact of ransomware attacks against organizations in the United Kingdom despite repeated warnings of the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC).

The NCSC chief executive Lindy Cameron warned that ransomware is the most dangerous threat facing the country, however, the level of ministerial interest is not proportionate.

The report urges a change in guarding against ransomware threats, proposing to shift the responsibility from the Home Office to the Cabinet Office and NCSC.

“The NCSC should be funded to establish an enhanced and dedicated local authority cyber resilience programme, including intensive support for local exercising and on securing council supply chains,” continues the report.

The JCNSS acknowledges the Deputy Prime Minister’s role in adopting a holistic approach to cybersecurity and resilience.

Beckett recommends the UK government consider defense from ransomware attacks a top political priority.

“in the likely event of a massive, catastrophic ransomware attack, the failure to rise to meet this challenge will rightly be seen as an inexcusable strategic failure.” Beckett added.

The report also recommends increasing investment in both the NCSC and the NCA to curb ransomware attacks and support organizations under attack.

The government appreciated the report and clarified it won’t diminish the Home Office’s role as the primary department in fighting cyber threats against the country.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Home Office)

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