Tech firm behind vaccine rollout bolsters defences over Putin cyber fears | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack

An American tech company behind the NHS vaccine rollout has moved its UK security operations to Britain amid growing fears of a Russian attack on internet cables under the Atlantic.

Palantir has switched its security operations for UK customers from the United States, allowing it to monitor threats and issue critical software updates from British soil. 

It said the change will reassure UK clients as companies are on high alert to the risk of a Kremlin cyber attack. The company, best known in Britain for its work with the NHS in the pandemic, also works with the Ministry of Defence. 

Issuing updates from the UK rather than the US is designed to prevent companies being cut off or less able to respond if internet services are disrupted. It will mean all cyber security telemetry is managed in the UK from where it is less likely to be intercepted.

Concerns about a Russian attack on undersea internet cables connecting the US to Europe are growing. Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the head of the Armed Forces, pointed earlier this year to a “phenomenal” increase in Russian submarine activity, which could pose a risk to global digital networks. 

The Russian military has been suspected of targeting a concentrated area of cable off the south west coast of Ireland during manoeuvres last year.

In a worst-case scenario, enemies might deploy cyber weapons against British companies and government agencies to coincide with networks being attacked. Security updates being issued from America would then be severely delayed, giving attackers a bigger window to infiltrate and disrupt.

Palantir, which helped develop the NHS Covid data store used to track and respond to the virus’s spread, is believed to be the biggest company of its kind to set up a UK base to distribute security updates and host staff to check for unwanted intrusions.

The multimillion pound investment, which will include hiring new staff, comes as the company plans to hire 250 people in the UK this year. London is already its biggest office worldwide.

Louis Mosley, Palantir’s UK head, said: “With geopolitical tensions rising, protecting the UK’s most vital public and private organisations has never been more important. That’s why we’re going above and beyond, offering the certainty that they require and ensuring that they can continue to operate with confidence in a heightened-threat environment.”

The move will mean less data being sent to US servers, which is a growing concern in Europe. Transferring data from Europe to the US is being challenged in European courts.

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