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UK Government must be more vigorous in approach to cyber security – report

14 January 2013

The UK Parliament Defence Committee's has published its report on cyber security, noting that cyber threats can evolve very quickly with serious consequences for the nation’s security. Evidence received by the Committee suggested that, in the event of a sustained cyber attack, the ability of the Armed Forces to operate effectively could be fatally compromised. 

The Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP, Chairman of the Defence Committee, 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."

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

The Committee was impressed by aspects of the co-operation and joint working between the MoD and private sector contractors. It welcomed the Government’s commitment to foster a vibrant and innovative cyber security sector in the UK, including a distinct role for the MoD to deliver military capabilities both to confront high-end threats and to provide a potential offensive capability.

"The opportunity created by cyber tools and techniques to enhance the military capabilities of our Armed Forces is clear," asserted Arbuthnot. "We want to see the MoD explore this thoroughly. For this reason, we support the use of National Cyber Security Programme funding to develop these capabilities, but also wish to be assured that the MoD will maintain its investment in existing defence intelligence services which provide a vital UK cross-Government capability."

Defence Minister Andrew Murrison said the government was investing £650m over four years on the National Cyber Security Programme.

"The UK armed forces and the equipment and assets they use are amongst the world's most modern and advanced, so of course information technology plays a vital role in their operation," he said.

"Far from being complacent, the MoD takes the protection of our systems extremely seriously and has a range of contingency plans in place to defend against increasingly sophisticated attacks although, for reasons of national security, we would not discuss these in detail."

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