RELENTLESS cyberattacks could be the prelude to World War Three, an expert has warned in the aftermath of a hit on a Scottish nuclear base.

HMNB Clyde, home to the UK’s arsenal of nuclear weapons, is believed to have been among the targets of Russia-linked hackers said to have obtained hundreds of pages of information about critical sites.

Other high security targets included the Porton Down chemical weapons lab and a GCHQ listening post, the Sunday Mirror reported.

The “potentially very damaging” attack by hacking group LockBit, which has known links to Russian nationals, saw screeds of information leaked to the dark web after the private security firm Zaun was targeted, the paper reported.

Now a cyber security expert has said the attacks came as the world stood on the “brink” of another global conflict.

Kevin Curran, professor of cyber security at Ulster University, told the PA news agency that LockBit’s attack was “serious” as we approach a potential “World War Three” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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He said the raid was “likely” sponsored by the Russian state given the nature of its target and that cyber attacks by Britain’s enemies had become “relentless”.

Professor Curran warned that the country was unprepared for this new era as third-party firms which hold data on the UK’s military infrastructure were not being properly regulated.

'On the brink of World War Three' 

He said: “You can’t just expect third party suppliers to adhere to your rules.

“There is always a risk when you have third party suppliers and you do wonder if they adhere to industry best practice.

“It is a worry because everything is online now – cybercrime is the biggest crime in the world.

“Given the new era we are entering which is the brink of World War Three everything is serious.

“They are relentless with these attacks. Their best way into our country is through our cyber-security. This is the nation at risk.

“In this case, given the target, my money would be on this being state-sponsored.”

It comes after Labour MP Kevan Jones, who sits on the Commons Defence Select Committee, urged the Government to explain why Zaun’s computer systems were “so vulnerable”, warning: “This is potentially very damaging to the security of some of our most sensitive sites.”

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“Any information which gives security arrangements to potential enemies is of huge concern,” he added.

The Government has so far declined to respond to concerns, with a spokesperson saying: “We do not comment on security matters.”

In a statement on its website published on Friday, Zaun said it had taken “all reasonable measures to mitigate any attacks on our systems” and explained that they had referred the matter to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

It explained that the breach occurred through a “rogue Windows 7 PC” that was running software for one of their manufacturing machines but that the network was “otherwise up to date”.

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It said: “At the time of the attack, we believed that our cyber-security software had thwarted any transfer of data.

“However, we can now confirm that during the attack LockBit managed to download some data, possibly limited to the vulnerable PC but with a risk that some data on the server was accessed.

“It is believed that this is 10 GB of data, 0.74% of our stored data.

“It is well known that Zaun is a specialist in high-security perimeter fencing and has supplied fencing to many high-profile sites.

“Sites where our products are used include prisons, military bases and utilities.”

Zaun has been approached for further comment.