The UK's defence minister has revealed the government is working with 20 other nations to stave off the threat of electronic attack, which could have “crippling consequences” for the country.
Speaking at the Electrical Infrastructure Security Summit, Philip Hammond, the secretary of state for defence, admitted that austerity measures made the task of building protection against electronic attack much harder.
“One of the big challenges we face as politicians is to make the case for spending on defence and security solutions that cannot readily be seen by the taxpaying public,” he said.
But given that electronic technology reached into “every part of government, every business, every home and increasingly, with mobile and Wi-Fi technology, pretty much every pocket", he added that the government was committed to strengthening its defences against attack.
Hammond said while the government believed that there was little likelihood of a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (Hemp) attack, which could be set off by a nuclear weapon, in the foreseeable future, the risk from space weather was much greater.
“A sustained blackout covering a large geographical area could have crippling consequences and do serious damage to the welfare of our citizens, as well as the functioning of our economy," he said.
With cyclical solar activity predicted to peak in 2013, Hammond said the UK would be well prepared for potential disruption.
Earlier this year, a group of MPs warned that the UK needed to strengthen its defences against space weather and electronic attack.
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