At today’s government Covid-19 press briefing, the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned of a cybersecurity threat to the UK.

At the briefing, he said: “There will always be some who try to exploit a crisis for their own criminal and hostile ends.

“We know that cybercriminals and other malicious groups are targeting individuals, businesses and other organisations by deploying Covid—19 related scams and phishing emails.

“That includes groups that in the cybersecurity world are known as Advanced Persistent Threat groups, sophisticated networks of hackers who try to breach computer systems.

“We have clear evidence these criminal gangs are actively targeting national and international organisations, which are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, which makes them particularly dangerous and venal.

“We are working with the potential targets to make sure they are aware of the cyber threat and that they can take the steps necessary to protect themselves and at the very least mitigate against the harm that could be wrought against them.

The UK’s Cyber National Security Centre and the US Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency have published a joint warning about these groups.

“Our teams have identified campaigns targeting health care bodies, pharmaceutical companies, research organisations and also various different arms of local government.

“There are various objectives and motivations behind these attacks, from fraud to espionage. They tend to be designed to steal bulk personal data, intellectual property, and wider information that supports those aims and they are often linked with other state actors.

“We expect this predatory criminal behaviour to continue to evolve over the coming weeks and months ahead and we have taken a range of measures to tackle that threat.

“We have shared advice on the nature of those threats to enable businesses, citizens, and our international partners to better defend themselves against the full range of cyber attacks from hostile states to criminal gangs.

“Preventative action is often the very best way to deny an attacker the opportunities that they are looking for.

"The National Cyber Security Centre offers a range of practical advice to safeguard against cyberattacks from things like using online passwords to guidance on what are the trusted sources of online information related to Covid-19.

“The UK will continue to counter those attacks and deter the gangs and arms of state who lie behind them.”