Britain has been hit by 188 "high-level attacks" in the last three months.
Some of these attempts include Russian state-sponsored hackers trying to steal defence and foreign policy secrets, according to the UK's newly appointed National Cyber Security Centre chief Ciaran Martin. Russian and Chinese attacks on defence and foreign policy servers are among those being investigated by the organisation.
Security vendors said that high-level malfeasance by foreign espionage agencies is an issue for Western businesses as well as governments.
Piers Wilson, head of product management at Huntsman Security, commented: "While we may be seeing a reported 'step change' in online attacks from Russia and other countries, there is little doubt that foreign powers who commit, or at least support, these attacks will see any element of the UK government and infrastructure as a legitimate target. Given the scale and complexity of the attacks, their attribution to a well-funded and skilled adversary is no surprise.
"Organisations should not consider these as a risk that is only targeted at high-profile networks and systems. Like any attacker, a state-sponsored actor will target any entity that it can find benefit from; this spans opposing nations, to their critical infrastructure, or just private businesses that can be sabotaged, disrupted or have valuable information stolen in the attacker national interest."
Ross Brewer, VP and MD of EMEA at LogRhythm, said: "Organised and state-sponsored hackers have evidently stepped up their game and this could lead to many unpleasant scenarios – from ransomware to the theft of intellectual property to the complete shutdown of our critical national infrastructure."
Richard Henderson, global security strategist at endpoint security specialist Absolute, added: "The rising number of endpoints that are magnifying this threat. Whether it's a mobile or wearable device, or even a seemingly innocent internet-connected fridge, cybercriminals have an almost infinite number of vectors to exploit when attempting to extract valuable data."