A CYBER attack worse than the Wannacry hack that crippled the NHS is "imminent", the UK's cyber security agency has warned.
A "category one" attack, the most serious, is likely to happen "sometime in the next few years".
A category one cybersecurity incident requires a national government response.
Ian Levy, technical director of GCHQ's National Cyber Security Centre, said that in the year since the agency was founded it has covered 500 incidents, including 30 at category two – including the WannaCry ransomworm that took down IT systems in multiple NHS trusts across the UK.
The NCSC was established last October to protect the UK from cyber attacks.
Ian Levy made the comments at a conference hosted by antivirus firm Symantec, held in London yesterday.
He told the conference: "Sometime in the next few years we're going to have out first "category one'" cyber incident, where you need a national response.
The centre says its going to work closely with law enforcement, including the NCA, to support cyber security awareness campaigns in a bit to protect against future attacks.
The WannaCry attack paralysed NHS computers and more than 200,000 victims across 150 countries were infected by malicious software.
It was launched on Friday, May 12, and infected more than 230,000 computers – demanding a ransom to unlock the victim’s files.
Around 40 NHS trusts were hit in the WannaCry ransomware attack, forcing them to postpone operations and procedures.
Seven hospitals remained on A&E divert two days later, with ambulances taking emergency patients elsewhere, NHS England said.
The full scale of the attack on the NHS only become apparent four days later as people returned to work.
But people were advised to attend any hospital or doctor appointments as normal, unless they were contacted and told not to.
It was later revealed that networks had been left vulnerable because they were still using outdated Windows XP software.
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