Commons Defence Committee said threat to UK security had ability to evolve at ‘almost unimaginable speed’
[Try to imagine such a report from a Canadian Commons’ committee.]
The armed forces are now so dependent on information technology that their ability to operate could be “fatally compromised” by a sustained cyber attack, MPs warned today [Jan. 9, report here].
The Commons Defence Committee said the cyber threat to UK security had the ability to evolve at “almost unimaginable speed” and questioned whether the Government had the capacity to deal with it.
It called on ministers to take a more hands-on approach to ensure proper contingency plans were in place.
The committee heard evidence that entire combat units, such as aircraft and warships, could be rendered completely dysfunctional by a cyber attack…
“The evidence we received leaves us concerned that with the armed forces now so dependent on information and communications technology, should such systems suffer a sustained cyber attack, their ability to operate could be fatally compromised,” the committee said.
“Given the inevitable inadequacy of the measures available to protect against a constantly changing and evolving threat … it is not enough for the armed forces to do their best to prevent an effective attack.
“In its response to this report the Government should 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 accused ministers of “complacency” over the failure to develop rules of engagement covering the military response to a cyber attack on the UK…
Defence Minister Andrew Murrison rejected accusations of complacency, saying the Government was investing £650 million over four years in the national cyber security strategy programme [more here]…
Cyber Attacks Bring Call for Help
American businesses want more help from government officials in fighting cyber attacks, although they continue to oppose government-prescribed safeguards, MasterCard Inc. MA +1.90% Chief Executive Ajay Banga said on Tuesday.
Mr. Banga is head of the information and technology committee at the Business Roundtable, a trade group that is set to start a push Wednesday for closer cooperation with Washington on computer security.
The effort is, in part, intended to head off a push by some policy makers for more regulation of private sector computer security. Last year, business interests helped soften and ultimately defeat a Senate cybersecurity bill that would have created a new regime of voluntary cybersecurity standards. Since then, American banks have continued to fend off harassment from Iranian hackers.
The White House is preparing an executive order that could press some companies to do more to secure their computer networks, and Congress may take another stab at passing legislation this year…
The issue of what role Washington should play in defending private computer networks has gained new urgency amid increased cyber attacks from foreign hackers. Since last fall, an Iranian hacker group has periodically disrupted access to U.S. bank websites. A veiled warning from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in October did little to stop the disruptions…
As Canada, er, lags:
Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Research Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute
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