Drone Disruption

Severed internet cables and malicious drones enter national list of risks to UK

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Threats to undersea telecommunications cables and the malicious use of drones are just some of the risks currently facing the UK, according to the Cabinet Office.

Deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden today unveiled the latest National Risk Register (NRR), which outlines 89 threats that would have a significant impact on the UK’s safety, security or critical systems at a national level.

As well as malicious drone use and threats to the communication network, disruption to energy supplies has been included on the list following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

The National Risk Register (NRR) has been released every few years since 2008 and divides risks into four main categories: natural hazards, major accidents, societal risks and malicious attacks. It evaluates a number of risks under each category and discusses the measures currently in place to deal with them.

The chance of a new “catastrophic” pandemic is now believed to be between 5 and 25 per cent, while impact assessments for weather events such as heatwaves and storms range from “significant” to “moderate” with a likelihood of between 1 and 25 per cent.

The Cabinet Office said there were “robust plans in place” for each of the different risks and is also urging businesses, local government and voluntary groups to play their part in helping plan for them.

Dowden said: “This is the most comprehensive risk assessment we’ve ever published, so that government and our partners can put robust plans in place and be ready for anything.

“One of those rising risks is energy security. We’ve installed the first turbine at the future world’s largest offshore windfarm, which will provide secure, low-cost and clean energy for the British people – enabling us to stand up to Putin’s energy ransom.”

In June, the government published its Biological Security Strategy to strengthen the UK’s defences against biological threats such as infectious diseases. It also published the Resilience Framework, which strengthens the coordinating structures that the UK uses to prepare for emergencies.

In April, nationwide tests began on the Emergency Alerts system which saw users of 4G and 5G mobile phones in the UK receive an alert on their device lasting up to 10 seconds.

The system enables urgent messages to be broadcast to a defined area when there is an imminent risk to life, such as wildfires or severe flooding.

Deputy national security adviser Matt Collins said: “A comprehensive understanding of the risks we face is critical to keeping the UK safe. 

“This edition of the NRR, based on the government’s internal, classified risk assessment offers even more detail on the potential scenarios, response and recovery options relating to the risks facing the UK, ranging from terrorism to conflicts and natural disasters.”

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