26/02/2018 13:01 GMT | Updated 26/02/2018 14:06 GMT

UK Cyber Attack Threat Could Get Worse Post-Brexit, Experts Warn

Report released today will examine security

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The UK’s cyber attack threat could worsen post-Brexit, experts have warned.

A report produced by academic group The UK In A Changing Europe examines how Britain’s national security, international influence and control may look after March 2019, once outside the European Union. 

Launched on Monday by foreign affairs select committee chair Tom Tugendhat, it reveals the UK’s ability to counteract cyber attacks is partly dependent on data exchanges with EU companies.

The exchanges could be put at risk if the EU does not regard the UK as a safe recipient of sensitive personal data - making protective measures more difficult.

The report’s authors - Malcolm Chalmers from RUSI; Camilla Macdonald and Anand Menon from The UK in a Changing Europe; Luigi Scazzieri from Centre for European Reform and Professor Richard Whitman, of the University of Kent - have devised three tests to determine the impact of Brexit on a range of foreign and security policies.

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Tom Tugendhat

“Much of the current debate about Brexit is focused on politics and process,” the group said.

“As the date of Britain’s departure approaches, it is important that the tools exist to allow us to assess what Brexit has meant for Britain.”

The most serious cyber attack to hit the UK was in May 2017, when the NHS was hit, but security chiefs say it is only a matter of time before an offence of the most serious kind - targeting infrastructure like energy companies and financial services - makes an impact.

The latest study suggests a successful Brexit, in security terms, would need to offer the same protections and benefits that the UK receives as a member of the EU - including membership of Europol and the European Arrest Warrant system.

Menon, director of The UK in a Changing Europe, said: “We all have a stake in making a success of Brexit but there need to be clear, evidence based ways of assessing its impact.

“This report takes the first step in providing these.”