Is The Undeclared War realistic? Expert speaks out on cyber attacks

The Undeclared War: Channel 4 previews new drama series

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The Undeclared War has almost arrived, premiering this evening [Thursday, June 30, at 9pm on Channel 4. The thriller will depict what would happen if the UK was under cyber threat from an unknown enemy during its peak political season. spoke to an e-crime expert about the realities of cyber attacks.

WARNING: This article contains spoilers from The Undeclared War.

The Undeclared War is set in the not-so-distant future in the post-pandemic UK in 2024.

This Channel 4 drama follows the story of a group of analysts at GCHQ who are trying to fight off a potential cyber-attack on the country’s electrical system.

Unfortunately, the threat has happened in the build-up to the next general election, piling on the pressure for them all.

Channel 4 has described the series as a “thrilling cat and mouse game” where they must stay one step ahead of their unknown opponents at all times.

Is The Undeclared War realistic?

According to the head of e-crime at cybersecurity specialist Mimecast, Carl Wearn, it is a very real threat to the UK.

“The cyberattack that takes place in the first episode of The Undeclared War is a relatable portrayal of a malware-borne attack, with an understandable reference to obfuscation as junk.

“This is definitely realistic and something that happens on a regular basis.

“The way that the programme used real-world representation of the virtual world by the actors with their tool belts was a really impressive way to illustrate to viewers how an attack might unfold in a way that is understandable.”

Carl continued to explain: “Given the events in recent years, the attack scenario is very credible and the suspected antagonist, Russia, is a realistic choice.

“Geopolitics certainly impact the cybersecurity landscape and this show highlights that well.

“It is also positive to see the politics of attribution play out early in the discussion with the Foreign Secretary, with the major pitfalls noted.

“Attribution is incredibly difficult and takes time, and even then, it can be incorrect as complex or nation-state threat actors intentionally utilise other groups’ tactics, techniques and procedures to make this more difficult, as well as all of the techniques available to virtually anyone to hide the true origin of an attack.

“In the real world, this attempt at attribution could be a major distraction, and may hinder a more effective and efficient response dealing with an incident with an ongoing impact.”

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The Undeclared War is a six-part drama directed and co-written by seven-time BAFTA-winner Peter Kosminsky.

Some of his previous work has included The Government Inspector, Wolf Hall, No Child of Mine and Wuthering Heights.

The limited series is going to air a new instalment every Thursday on Channel 4 in the same timeslot.

The show will also become available on NBCUniversal’s American streaming service Peacock at a later date.

Leading the cast as GCHQ’s Head of Operations Daniel Patrick is actor, writer and comedian Simon Pegg.

He is joined by The Originals’ actress Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Dunkirk’s Mark Rylance and newcomer Hannah Khalique-Brown.

Riviera star Adrian Lester will be portraying Andrew Makinde, the UK’s first black Conservative prime minister.

The Undeclared War premieres on Thursday, June 30, at 9pm on Channel 4.

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