Tech firm behind vaccine rollout bolsters defenses against Putin cyber fears
A US tech firm 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 moved its security operations for UK customers from the US, allowing it to monitor threats and release critical software updates from UK soil.
He said the change would reassure UK customers as businesses are on high alert over the risk of a Kremlin cyberattack. The firm, best known in Britain for its work with the NHS in the pandemic, is also working with the Ministry of Defence.
Posting updates from the UK rather than the US is designed to prevent businesses from being cut off or less able to respond if internet services are interrupted. This means that all cybersecurity telemetry is handled in the UK from where it is less likely to be intercepted.
Concerns about a Russian attack on undersea internet cables connecting the United States to Europe are growing. Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, chief of the armed forces, earlier this year pointed to a “phenomenal” increase in Russian underwater activity, which could pose a risk to global digital networks.
The Russian military was suspected of targeting a concentrated area of cables off the southwest coast of Ireland during maneuvers last year.
In the worst-case scenario, enemies could deploy cyber weapons against UK businesses and government agencies to coincide with the networks under attack. Security updates issued from America would then be significantly 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 spread of the virus, is believed to be the largest such company to set up a base in the UK to distribute updates security and host personnel to check for unwanted intrusions.
The multi-million 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 largest office in the world.
Louis Mosley, UK Director of Palantir, said: “As geopolitical tensions mount, protecting the UK’s most vital public and private organizations has never been more important. That’s why we go above and beyond, delivering the certainty they need and ensuring they can continue to operate with confidence in a heightened threat environment.
The move will mean less data sent to US servers, which is a growing concern in Europe. The transfer of data from Europe to the United States is contested in European courts.