The government is to seek industry advice on how to secure internet infrastructures in the face of terrorist threats, as part of measures to update contingency planning released today.
The Civil Contingencies Bill is intended to provide a modern framework for protecting critical parts of the UK's infrastructure from attack, including electronic networks and water and electricity systems.
As part of its proposals, the government will ask industry experts how to ensure that vital communication networks cannot be brought down.
"We want utility companies to take a view on how they can best provide resilience and have the ability to bounce back quickly in the event of an attack," said a government source.
The Home Secretary will be given the final say on when to invoke the powers, and is only likely to do so for an attack on a "massive scale".
"We're not just talking about a virus or denial of service attack, but when it is so serious that it reduces the ability to govern," explained the source.
Roland Perry, director of public policy at the London Internet Exchange, insisted that in the event of serious disruption there needs to be a co-ordinating body to oversee the restoration of services and identify which services are prioritised.
"Already, much of the work on this has been agreed on a voluntary basis," he said, adding that essential services may be restored before businesses. "Clearly, in these situations service providers will give priority to essential services."
The Civil Contingencies Bill also contains formal procedures for ensuring that police are able to investigate any attack. The legislation will replace the Emergency Powers Act 1920.
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