Attack on UK critical national infrastructure is imminent say survey respondents

Published: Wednesday, 27 February 2019 09:08

More than half (59 percent) of respondents to a poll conducted by Infosecurity Europe 2019 believe that an attack on the UK’s critical national infrastructure is likely in 2019.

As more devices, systems and infrastructure are connected to the Internet, the cyber and physical worlds are becoming increasingly linked, opening up new attack vectors. According to Ciaran Martin, head of the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a major category one (C1) attack on UK critical infrastructure – one that disrupts essential services, or affects national security – is a matter of “when, not if”.

The responses to Infosecurity Europe’s poll also indicate that organizations in all sectors are not properly prepared to manage security effectively across both cyber and physical environments. Lack of collaboration and low levels of awareness of key legislation are the biggest problems.

Over two thirds (68 percent) of respondents say that the security teams in charge of their physical and cyber infrastructures never collaborate. This disconnect leads to misaligned plans and conflicting priorities, while creating ‘silos’ that make it difficult for CISOs to gain full visibility of controls and risks across both IT and OT (Operational Technology) environments. 

Only 16 percent of respondents to the Infosecurity Europe poll were aware of the EU’s NIS Directive – which is designed to improve the security and resilience of network and information systems – and its implications. The legislation, which was put in place in 2016, sets out security requirements that apply to all operators of essential services and digital service providers (DSPs). Failure to adhere to these could leave security gaps that present attackers with ‘open doors’ through which they can access infrastructure and physical assets. UK organizations found to be non-compliant can be fined up to £17 million.