89 UK security threats identified by National Risk Register

The 89 threats to life in the UK are listed in a recent report called the National Risk Register (NRR), which was published by the Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden on 3rd August 2023. 

The NRR is an assessment of the risks facing the UK that would have a significant impact on the UK’s safety, security or critical systems at a national level. The NRR is based on the government’s internal, classified risk assessment and offers more detail on the potential scenarios, response and recovery options relating to the risks.

The 89 threats are divided into four categories: natural hazards, malicious attacks, accidents and system failures, and global events.

Some of the threats

  • Natural hazards: These include extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, floods, storms, droughts, and wildfires; geological hazards, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and landslides; biological hazards, such as pandemics, animal diseases, plant diseases, and invasive species; and space weather events, such as solar flares and geomagnetic storms.
  • Malicious attacks: These include terrorism, such as bombings, shootings, chemical weapons, biological weapons, radiological weapons, cyberattacks, and drones; espionage and sabotage, such as interference with critical infrastructure, communications, or data; and conflict and instability, such as war, nuclear weapons, state-sponsored attacks, civil unrest, and violent extremism.
‘Cyber security hack – just one of the potential risks facing the UK’.
  • Accidents and system failures: These include industrial accidents, such as explosions, fires, spills, or leaks; transport accidents, such as plane crashes, train derailments, ship collisions, or road collisions; infrastructure failures, such as power outages, water shortages, gas leaks, or internet disruptions; and technological failures, such as software bugs, hardware malfunctions, or AI errors.
  • Global events: These include economic crises, such as recessions, inflation, debt defaults, or trade wars; political crises, such as coups, revolutions, sanctions, or human rights violations; social crises, such as migration flows, refugee crises, humanitarian emergencies, or famines; and environmental crises, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, or resource depletion.

Threat level

The NRR also provides information on how likely each threat is to occur in the next five years (from very low to very high), how severe the impact would be on the UK (from minor to catastrophic), and what actions the government and other stakeholders are taking to prevent or mitigate the risks. 

The NRR is intended to help the public and businesses better understand and prepare for potential threats facing the country now and in the future.

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