Security services warn National Grid over Russia blackout threat

Posted On: 
18th March 2018

Major power companies and the National Grid have been put on alert over possible Russian cyber attacks on key British infrastructure.

Power firms have been warned to strengthen their defences against a possible cyber attack

Officials from the National Cyber Security Centre have also issued advice to the likes of the Sellafield nuclear plant, Whitehall departments and NHS trusts over possible action from Vladimir Putin's government.

It comes after the Kremlin announced tit-for-tat expulsions of British diplomats in response to Theresa May's decision to kick out 23 Russian embassy staff. 

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The Russian government is also closing down the British Council and shutting the UK's consulate in St Petersburg.

The head of the NCSC, Ciaran Martin, warned in January of the risk of a 'category one' Russian cyber attack on the UK, which would involve "disruption of critical systems".

“They’re contacting all the critical national infrastructure operators. They’ve been in touch with National Grid with guidance," a Whitehall source told the Sunday Times.

The NCSC's director of operations, Paul Chichester, told the same paper: “It is absolutely right that we give advice to sectors on defending themselves from cyber-attacks.

“We are vigilant to cyber-threats wherever they come from and are ready to defend against them.”

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will address EU foreign ministers tomorrow as they plot a joint response to last week's nerve agent attack in Salisbury, which the UK has pinned on the Russian state. 

The Prime Minister will also hold a meeting of her National Security Council on Tuesday. 

Among possible further sanctions include an emergency law to seize the assets of Russians laundering money through the UK, targeting London oligarchs' finances and strengthening the visa regime to stop associates of the Putin government coming to this country.