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MPs warn UK unprepared for cyber war

09 Jan 2013
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MPs have warned the UK government is holding back the country's ability to defend itself from major cyber attacks.

The report from the Defence Select Committee worries that institutions like the army will be caught out if they are attacked because of the government's slow pace and lack of effort.

This, it warns, is in the face of a threat that "has the capacity to evolve with almost unimaginable speed and with serious consequences for the nation's security".

Chair of the committee, James Arbuthnot MP, said it was vital the government acted now to consider the full implication of a cyber attack on the nation.

"It is our view that cyber security is a sufficiently urgent, significant and complex activity to warrant increased ministerial attention," he said.

"The government needs to put in place - as it has not yet done - mechanisms, people, education, skills, thinking and policies which take into account both the opportunities and the vulnerabilities which cyberspace presents."

The committee report argued little is being done in government to shore up systems and prepare them against external assaults.

"We have asked the government to set out details of the contingency plans it has in place should such an attack occur," added Arbuthnot. "If it has none, it should say so - and urgently create some."

UK systems and institutions face a number of challenges, including the threat of hacktivist protest groups like Anonymous, according to the report.

"Threats to security and information in the cyber domain include state-sponsored attacks, ideological and political extremism, serious organised crime, lower-level/individual crime, cyber protest, cyber espionage and cyber terrorism," it says in its threats section.

"In times of conflict, vulnerabilities in cyberspace could be exploited by an enemy to reduce our military's technological advantage, or to reach past it to attack our critical infrastructure at home."

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Dave Neal
About

Dave Neal is a reporter at The INQUIRER. Previously he worked at V3.co.uk, VNUnet, and IT Week in editor and journalist roles.

He started his career when the Y2K bug was a front page story and remains committed to covering the interesting world of technology news.

He left the world of office working four years ago and now represents The INQUIRER from home in Kent with his dog.

Dave has been quoted in papers including the London Metro.

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