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China’snot heeding how dangerous China’s cyber-espionage capabilities are, claims ex-cybersecurity chief – Firstpost | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Sunak’s cabinet has been very active with regulating AI, and cybersecurity, but has been ignoring China’s threat. Image Credit: Reuters

Former Chief Executive of Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre, Ciaran Martin, has issued a stark warning about the growing cyber threats posed by China, emphasising that the United Kingdom is ignoring the significant shift in Beijing’s cyber-espionage tactics.

Martin’s remarks come in the wake of a US alert earlier this year, revealing that Chinese state-backed hackers are targeting critical sectors, marking a pivotal moment in China’s cyberwarfare strategy.

In an interview with The Guardian during the DTX conference at Manchester Tech Week, Martin stressed the need for heightened vigilance across both public and private sectors, as well as civil society. He urged the UK government to convey unequivocally to China that any attempts to disrupt essential infrastructure would be intolerable.

According to Martin, it is crucial to establish clear boundaries and designate disruption of civilian infrastructure as a red line.

Highlighting the gravity of the situation, Martin drew parallels between China’s evolving cyber tactics and those employed by Russia, indicating a shift towards Moscow-style strategies.

He referenced FBI Director Christopher Wray’s warning in April, detailing how Chinese hackers infiltrated key US infrastructure, including telecommunications and energy sectors, with the intent to inflict widespread damage.

Martin pointed out that while such attacks might not result in direct fatalities, they could inflict significant harm. He cited the example of a ransomware attack on the British Library, underscoring the potential ramifications if similar attacks were to occur simultaneously on multiple critical institutions.

Addressing the UK’s response to cyber threats, Martin welcomed the government’s consideration of mandatory reporting of ransomware attacks and regulations on ransom payments. He expressed appreciation for the seriousness with which these measures are being considered, emphasizing the importance of robust actions in safeguarding national interests.

The urgency of Martin’s warnings is underscored by recent incidents, including cyber-attacks targeting the UK elections watchdog and surveillance operations on British politicians, attributed to Beijing-backed hackers.

In light of these developments, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to taking decisive actions against any threats posed by the Chinese government.

As a professor at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, Martin’s insights carry significant weight in the cybersecurity domain. His calls for enhanced preparedness and proactive measures against cyber threats serve as a rallying cry for collective action to protect the UK’s digital infrastructure and national security.

(With inputs from agencies)

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