Cybersecurity News: Increase in Cyberattacks Across Multiple Sectors in the UK
Prevalence of cyberattacks means that every organisation must take steps to ensure network security, such as relying on a dedicated NTP time server
The volume of cyberattacks has rapidly increased over the pandemic, as hackers attempt to take advantage of changes in working practices, absent staff and a shift in focus. The National Fraud Investigation Bureau noted an increase of over 50% in reported cases of malicious online activity, such as computer viruses, malware and spyware, in the period from June 2020 – May 2021.
To highlight the prevalence of this damaging threat and how it affects multiple sectors, these are just some of the reported incidents of cyberattacks which occurred during the pandemic.
Some of the main targets in this period were public organisations. Wealden District Council were subjected to a sustained cyberattack, which began in mid-June this year. Although the number of access attempts eventually dwindled, even at the end of July they were still experiencing a higher-than-usual volume. Fortunately, none of the attempts were successful.
In February 2021, Broxtowe Borough Council were targeted by hackers, believed to be from Russia, attempting to break into their computer systems. Their firewall was able to block the attacks, and no personal data was accessed. Even Scotland’s Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) was a victim of a cyberattack on Christmas Eve 2020, and as a result lost access to a large amount of its own network after refusing to pay a ransom demand.
Schools and higher education facilities are also a popular target for online attacks. In a single week in March 2021, the University of Central Lancashire, the University of the Highlands and Islands and Queen’s University in Belfast were all targeted. Just a few weeks later in April, the University of Hertfordshire was the victim of a devastating cyberattack affecting all of its IT systems, disrupting online learning. All the secondary schools in Anglesey Council were the focus of an attack in June 2021. As a result, work to improve their school computer systems is now being fast-tracked over the summer holidays.
Northern Rail and bus operator Nottingham City Transport were two transport organisations who found themselves subjected to cyberattacks in July 2021. Even SITA, leading airline technology providers serving around 90% of the world’s airline business, had their servers breached in March 2021. As a result, the personal data of 4.5 million passengers was stolen.
Since obtaining personal data is often the goal of such intrusions, it’s easy to see why organisations such as councils, schools and transport service providers are often targeted. However, as cybercrime increases, so does the almost random element of these attacks; it’s no longer the case that just high-profile corporations are affected. You might not be able to stop these attacks from happening, but you can take action to ensure you’re protected against them.
One way to ensure network security is to use a dedicated NTP time server, such as Netsilon from Bodet, to synchronise time across network devices rather than using a public time server. Although the origin of a time signal might seem like an insignificant part of your network security strategy, it can create a vulnerability in your systems which cybercriminals are all too aware of.
Using a public time server means opening a port in your firewall, immediately increasing the chance of successful cyberattacks. Public time servers might be free, but you use them completely at your own risk; the majority of them are operated by public organisations such as universities, which are themselves the popular target of online intrusions. So now in addition to opening a port, you’re opening a port to a potentially compromised unknown source. This is in stark comparison to dedicated NTP time servers, which operate within your network to preserve its integrity.
Bodet’s Netsilon NTP Time Server offers high accuracy and reliability in addition to security; a full range of benefits. This is not something that public time servers can compete with.
If you would like to find out more about our Netsilon NTP Time Server and how it can increase network security for your organisation, please contact us.