North Korea is set to become a “premier league” player in cyber-warfare as it tries to loot Britain’s financial sector. Losses inflicted by sanctions are threatening its nuclear ambitions, the former head of GCHQ has warned.
Robert Hannigan, who ran Britain’s signals intelligence agency for three years until March, warned: “They’re after our money.” He said Pyongyang’s reclusive regime was sharpening its hacking abilities via its collaboration with Iran and criminal networks operating from southeast Asia and China.
While its military weapons were not a direct threat to the UK, its cyber-capabilities were, warned Hannigan in his first newspaper interview since leaving his post.
He cited the example of its WannaCry ransomware attack, which in May crippled NHS computers at hospitals and GP surgeries in an attempt to extort money.
“Their missiles are not going to reach the UK but their cyber-attacks did reach the NHS and other parts of Europe,” said Hannigan, 52.