Channel Islands Used To Launch Global Cyber-Attacks

Jersey is part of the Channel Islands, a British territory located in the English Channel close to the coast of France. Usually associated with its wealthy residents and low tax regime and a target for attack, it turns out the island is also being used a base for cyber crime. 

Computers have recently been hijacked and used to launch cyber attacks against organisations in a number of different countries.

The Channel Islands see more than 10 million incoming cyber attacks every month, according to research by Guernsey firm Black Arrow Cyber Consulting.  In particular, the islands' have frozen the assets of Russian banks and billionaires with close links to President Putin.

Now, the Jersey the government’s Cyber Emergency Response Team,(CERT.JE) has said that recently 5 to 13 compromised Jersey IT machines have been used to target computers in the United States, Germany and Hungary, but so far it is not known who was behind the attacks.

CERT.JE also revealed that it is being expanded to counter an anticipated increase in cyber crime, driven by several factors, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

‘The changing geopolitical environment resulting from that conflict means we are going to be heading into decades, if not generations, of raised cyber-risk... We have an increase in the number of people who are skilled enough to carry out cyber-attacks, they have reduced opportunities to earn livings legitimately, we have increasing costs around the world and we have an increasing level of connectivity between nation states and organised crime in many places,’ CERT.JE's spokesman said.

‘It could happen to anybody and the best way to make sure it is not you is by making sure your systems are set to automatically update and that you use two-factor identification on your emails and social media,’ he advised.

Businesses in the Channel Islands have been put on high alert to expect cyber attacks from Russia and security experts fear Russian hackers will target computers in retaliation to sanctions imposed by the UK, Jersey and Guernsey. 

‘We are seeing new attacks, new events, on a daily basis, we get the information through from our threat intelligence feeds and we can see it happening, so it’s definitely real. ‘This is not something that happens occasionally and there are very real compromises that take place in Jersey, CERT.JE's spokesman said. He explained that an ‘attack’ usually meant the use of malicious software, such as a virus, or a denial of service attack, in which data is sent to another network to reduce its availability.

‘Some people become criminals by choice, but a lot of people don’t. A lot of people go into cyber crime because it’s the way they can make ends meet for them and their families... Because we are heading into to this increase [in cyber-crime] it is important that we have CERT and it is important that we have the ability to defend ourselves as an island... The number of cyber-security jobs worldwide is expected to increase by a third over the next five years, there are 40,000 cyber security vacancies in the UK alone,’ he added.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had a widespread impact across the world in countless ways, from disrupting supply chains, causing a refugee crisis and throwing parts of the global financial system into disarray. While the Channel Islands may only have a small population of around 170,000, the financial service sector is extremely important to the economies of these islands.

The Guernsey Financial Services Commission is urging firms to ensure they have sophisticated cyber security software in place should their systems come under attack from operatives in Russia.

CERT.JE:     Jersey Police:     ITV:    Jersey Evening Post:   Techerati:      BBC:  

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