Cyber Blitz on UK Government?

We have been warned today of a potential cyber blitz being launched against the UK following the action it took in Syria.  The sources include the UK Foreign Secretary (Mr Johnson), as well as some more reliable sources such as the better quality newspapers.

If you think the thought of a cyber blitz is science fantasy, on 11 April 2018 the UK announced that it had carried out a cyber blitz against Islamic State.  In May 2017 a large number of National Health Service bodies were subject to a successful cyber attack.  The attack was helped by so much hardware running obsolete unsupported Windows software.  I would suggest that all UK Government bodies be treated as being at similar risk.

Accordingly, please take care when dealing with UK Government bodies, including HM Revenue & Customs, until the “all clear” is given.  Please also treat any communications from UK Government bodies with great care.

I have seen no communication from HMRC to the effect that it is GDPR compliant, but last week asked one of the UK professional bodies to make enquiries as to HMRC’s status.  For the time being, I’d recommend HMRC be treated as non-compliant.

Please take care when using any HMRC online products, such as those for submitting VAT and tax returns.  You may think it sensible to contact your own IT specialists before doing so.

For the time being, we are treating HMRC as “high risk” and will be checking all communications with them.  We will also be asking HMRC, as well as the Tribunal Service, to minimise the electronic traffic until the level of risk of those organisations has been assessed and we are told that suitable safeguards have been put in place.

Moving more into opinion, if I were to be the person setting up a cyber blitz I would attack a country’s financial system, hence leaving HMRC well up the list, but putting the banks at risk.  For example, if the bank clearing system were to fail it would cause massive damage very quickly (though I’m not sure it is time to take cash out of the bank and store it under the bed!).

So, please be careful out there.

Steve Botham