Following on from the Salisbury chemical attack and the murder of Russian businessman Nikolai Glushkov, there is continued concern for the safety of Russian exiles resident in the UK.
Members of the intelligence community, however, are conscious that Moscow may look to utilise cyber-attacks as part of its next step.
This development follows on from recent accusations from both the US and UK governments that Russia was responsible for last year’s devastating NotPetya ransomware attack that targeted Ukraine’s financial, energy and government sectors before spreading across computer systems around the world.
Fears that Russia will look to target the UK’s critical national infrastructure with a crippling cyber-attack has put banks, energy and water companies on maximum alert, with round-the-clock threat assessments being carried out.
Robert Hannigan, previously a director of GCHQ and the National Security Council, has noted that the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) are monitoring a substantial amount of attacks on the UK each day. Commenting on discovering Russians on UK cyber networks, he said, “They’re constantly being found on networks but it’s their intent that matters more than the fact they are there. The difficulty with cyber is that you can be on a network to gather intelligence or you can be on a network to do something destructive and the two look pretty much the same.”