Glasgow braced for cyber attacks leading up to Climate Change Summit

News / Glasgow braced for cyber attacks leading up to Climate Change Summit

Glasgow braced for cyber attacks leading up to Climate Change Summit

Police Scotland warn that Glasgow could grind to a standstill in the coming weeks as a result of threats made by cyber hackers. 

The UK is set to host a 12-day UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November, with leaders from across the world including Joe Biden set to congregate in Glasgow as well as tens of thousands of delegates. The nature of the proposed attacks would be to destabilize the summit and target government organizations, whilst also affecting local businesses and everyday life for Glaswegians.  

Detective Superintendent for Cyber Investigations at Police Scotland Alex Dowall said, “We know criminals will exploit any opportunity for their own gains and COP26 will be no different”. 

Security experts have placed certain organizations under high alert for cyber-attacks, which seem to be focalized on the City’s infrastructure – including the train and underground networks. 

Having seen the magnitude of previous cyber-attacks on infrastructure in the UK, such as Northern Rail's ticket machines being hit by a ransomware cyber attack in July 2021, the Strathclyde Passenger Transport (SPT) which runs Glasgow’s underground services is on high alert. 

The SPT commented on the threat, saying they have “got a separate group looking at cyber security” as part of an effort to look ahead to potential attacks in a preventative sense. The SPT head of business strategy and delivery Gordon Dickson went on to say that “In terms of the Subway, we are having to look at our security requirements for that and working closely with the emergency services, security and police on the plans”. 

Local businesses have also been told to be prepared for potential attacks on their website and social media, with the Scottish Business Resilience Centre stating that “with less than 100 days to go until COP26, businesses should already be taking steps to protect themselves – both physically and online”. 

The threats have not just triggered a city-wide call to action, with Glasgow City Council hiring a cyber crime consultant that will execute an exercise to test the efficacy of the planned response, but a national reaction which includes the Scottish government deliberating with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). 

The NCSC commented on the looming threats saying > “The NCSC plays an active role in supporting the security of events such as COP26 and we will work closely with the Scottish Government and Police Scotland to identify and respond to a range of threats.”

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