Russian threat

Firms urged to raise cyber defences amid Ukraine tensions

Russian military
A Russian military build up is continuing

Companies and public services have been told to prepare for cyber attacks as Russia raises the stakes in its stand-off with the west over the future of Ukraine.

Lindy Cameron, head of the GCHQ national cyber security centre, has spoken of a “heightened cyber threat” while director Jeremy Fleming has briefed food, utility and communications companies. Home Secretary Priti Patel has called for “pre-emptive measures” by UK corporations.

In a warning to Russia, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would respond to any attack on British business and public services by preventing Russia’s “strategic” companies raising finance in London.

Mr Johnson, speaking after attending the Munich security conference, said the evidence suggests that Russia’s president Vladimir Putin is planning ‘the biggest war in Europe since 1945’.

His comments mirrored President Joe Biden warning that the US has reason to believe Russian forces ‘intend to attack’ Ukraine in the coming days, including targeting Kiev.

Home Secretary Ms Patel told the Sunday Telegraph there were “reports of malicious cyber incidents in Ukraine that bear the hallmarks of similar Russian activity.

“Our National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has confirmed that past Russian cyber activity has included attempted interference against UK media, tele communications and energy infrastructure, and cyber criminals in Russia have targeted well-known firms in recent high-profile attacks.”

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for Western allies to immediately impose sanctions on Russia.

Lufthansa, the German airline, said it will suspend flights to the Ukraine capital Kyiv from Monday.

The airline said it will also stop flights to Odessa, a key port on the Black Sea. “The safety of our passengers and crew members is our top priority at all times,” said the company.

Multiple explosions have been heard this morning in the centre of the separatist-held city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. A loudspeaker in the area asked citizens to exercise caution but the origin of the explosions is not clear.

Reports suggested that the Kyiv district was also hit by projectiles. There were nearly 2,000 ceasefire violations between the two sides on Saturday alone.

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