Tuesday briefing: Major cyber-attack is inevitable, warns security chief | World news

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Top story: Total protection from attacks is ‘impossible’

Morning everyone. I’m Martin Farrer bringing you the top stories today.

A major cyber-attack targeting Britain’s electoral system or infrastructure is inevitable in the next two years, according to the man charged with trying to protect us from the threat. Speaking to the Guardian, Ciaran Martin, head of the UK National Cyber Security Centre, said the US, France and other parts of Europe had suffered so-called “category one” attacks and it was a question of “when, not if” Britain became the target. “We will be fortunate to come to the end of the decade without having to trigger a category one attack,” he said, adding that total protection was impossible. The country’s worst attack was the WannaCry ransomware attack in May last year that disrupted hospitals. But it was only classed as a category two attack, of which there have been 34 since the NCSC was set up in October 2016, Martin said. There have been 762 category three incidents, he said.

His comments come as the chief of the general staff, General Sir Nick Carter, prepares to issue his own warning about the cyber-attack threat, in particular from Russia. As the debate about defence spending intensifies, Sir Nick will say Moscow now has unconventional military capabilities that the UK will struggle to match.

Boris boost – Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, will stray into domestic territory today when he will tell cabinet colleagues that all experts are agreed that the NHS needs a huge spending boost. And he will warn his fellow ministers that failure by the Tories to do so will allow Jeremy Corbyn to gain the upper hand in the next election. he believes the service should get £100m a week in extra funding after Brexit. “This isn’t about the referendum, it’s about delivering on the number one concern for the public and beating Corbyn at the next election,” a Johnson ally said..

Eruption hits ski resort – One person has died and several injured after a volcano erupted at a ski resort in Japan, triggering an avalanche and showering the slopes with rocks. A dozen skiers were trapped by the avalanche on Mount Shirane on Tuesday and five of the injuries were serious. The dead victim was a member of the Japanese defence forces.

Somalia surge – A huge increase in US airstrikes on Islamist militants in Somalia could lead to a surge in support for extremists, experts fear. A Guardian investigation has found that dozens of civilians have been killed and wounded in Somalia as US-led airstrikes ramp up to unprecedented levels under Donald Trump. There have been 34 US airstrikes in Somalia in the last six months – at least twice the total for the whole of 2016. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said the attacks could weaken local faith in the international community to bring peace to east Africa and in turn encourage support for jihadists. Our world affairs editor Julian Borger says the US air wars are increasingly indiscriminate and opaque.

Down in the swamp – Ukip could soon be searching for its fifth leader in two years as pressure increased on Henry Bolton to stand down amid the fallout from his relationship with 25-year-old Jo Marney. Bolton said on Monday that he would resist calls for his resignation, adding that the party’s national executive was not fit for purpose and it was time to “drain the swamp”. However, the swamp seems to be draining itself. Ten of the party’s portfolio holders quit on Monday, joining the five who have left their roles in recent weeks. Even the party’s founder, Alan Sked, has stuck the boot in, saying Ukip is a national joke and should disband.

Still dreaming – The US government shutdown is over. Senate Democrats voted last night to support a bill funding federal operations in exchange for the promise of a future vote on the fate of the Dreamers, the undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US illegally as children. The House of Represenatives also backed the bill and Donald Trump – who said Democrats had “come to their senses” – signed the legislation to allow thousands of federal workers to start getting paid again after the three-day shutdown. However, some Democrats criticised their senators, saying the Republicans could not be trusted to deliver a deal for the Dreamers.

Diamond reaches end of road – The veteran singer-songwriter, Neil Diamond, has announced he is retiring from touring after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The 77-year-old, whose hits include Red Red Wine and Sweet Caroline, was due to play across Australia and New Zealand in March as part of his 50th anniversary tour but all shows have been cancelled. “Legendary singer, songwriter and performer Neil Diamond today announced his retirement from touring due to his recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease,” a statement on his website said.

Lunchtime read: A night with the deplorables

Partygoers at A Night for Freedom in Manhattan.

One of New York’s hottest tickets of the weekend was the alt-right gala, A Night of Freedom. Well, sort of. There was an elaborate effort by the organisers to make sure journalists and other troublemakers didn’t obtain entry, while other obstacles included the original venue cancelling at the last minute and picketing by black-clad protesters. But the show did go on and J Oliver Conroy was there to witness what he calls a cross between a political fundraiser and a high school prom. In a giddy, triumphalist atmosphere the talk was of Hillary Clinton (“she’s gonna get her time, you guys just wait”), cryptocurrency, the dangers of socialism, George Soros (“the head of the snake”), and the media (“leftist propaganda machine”). Less predictably, Chelsea Manning also pitched up and later claimed she had been gathering “intel” on the alt-right.


Britain’s Kyle Edmund has reached the semis of the Australian Open by beating Grigor Dimitrov in four sets. What a sensation. Read how he did it on our blog. The swap deal involving Alexis Sánchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan has finally come to fruition with Manchester United announcing the Chilean’s arrival at Old Trafford with a video purportedly showing him playing Glory Glory Man United on the piano. Liverpool badly lacked mojo on a night when Jürgen Klopp’s side lost their 18-match unbeaten run, 1-0 against Swansea City, the Premier League’s bottom club.

The sentence hearing for the former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar has heard one survivor’s mother is still being billed for sessions at which she was sexually abused. Joe Root will miss the Twenty20 series against Australia and New Zealand next month after discussions with coach Trevor Bayliss. And, is this the greatest catch of all time?


The value of Netflix has surpassed $100bn for the first time. The share price of the streaming service soared on Wall Street after it added 8.33 million subscribers in the three months to the end of December. Shares in Asia rose across the board thanks to the US budget deal. The FTSE100 is due to rise 0.36% at the open. The pound is buying $1.397 and €1.14.

The papers

Lots of variety on the fronts today.

The Mirror has a startling image on its front which it claims is a van driver travelling at 60mph while texting with both hands off the wheel. The headline is “They’re still not getting the message”.

The Guardian’s splash is the story mentioned above about the impending cyber-attack on the UK. The FT highlights the end of the impasse that had shut down the US government.

The Guardian front page, Tuesday 23 January 2018

The Times says Boris Johnson will ask cabinet to approve an extra £5bn a year to go to the NHS from next year in an intervention likely to annoy the prime minister. The Telegraph splashes with “Children obese at 11 doomed to early death”.

The Mail meanwhile targets Vladimir Putin and reports he is a “clear and present danger” to the UK, according to the head of the army.

The i has an investigation into cheap chicken and says the cost is kept low thanks to the trade-off of appalling conditions for the birds.

The Sun’s headline is “He’s back” and says John Worboys, the “black cab rapist”, has been transferred to a London prison ahead of his release. The paper says he is now back at the scene of his attacks.

For more news: www.theguardian.com

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