New measures to combat threats in cyber space

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has launched the UK’s first cyber security strategy, aiming to protect the public from the growing threats of cybercrime and take advantage of the opportunities introduced by the Digital Britain report.

Jul 2, 2009
By Paul Jacques

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has launched the UK’s first cyber security strategy, aiming to protect the public from the growing threats of cybercrime and take advantage of the opportunities introduced by the Digital Britain report.
The strategy has been published alongside an updated, wider National Security Strategy and highlights the growing recognition within government of the need to bolster defences against a growing threat.
Two new bodies will be established in the coming months as part of the strategy. A dedicated Office of Cyber Security (OCS) will drive forward a cross-government programme of work and a new multi-agency Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) based at GCHQ in Cheltenham will provide the coordinated protection of the UK’s critical IT systems.
With over £50 billion spent online in the UK every year and 90 per cent of high street purchases made using electronic transactions, new technology is vital to national prosperity. But with modern life increasingly dependent on computers and communications technology, cyber space has been identified as the new area where terrorists and criminals can threaten UK security interests.
The cyber security strategy aims to help the Government re-shape the way it responds to these challenges, including better alignment of the existing efforts on cyber security, such as the new Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU).
The Prime Minister explained: “Just as in the 19th century we had to secure the seas for our national safety and prosperity, and in the 20th century we had to secure the air, in the 21st century we also have to secure our position in cyber space in order to give people and businesses the confidence they need to operate safely there. That is why I am announcing – alongside our updated National Security Strategy – the UK’s first strategy for cyber security.
“On top of our existing efforts, additional new funding will enhance our ability to detect attacks, ensure government and business have a shared picture of the risks, and provide better systems for sharing vital intelligence about threats and attacks securely.”
Key priorities for implementing the strategy are:
•Developing a cyber industrial strategy, with opportunities for hi-tech businesses in the UK.
•Tackling the use of cyber space by criminals and terrorists in line with the Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO) forthcoming strategy for law enforcement on cybercrime.
•Establishing a new ethics advisory group to make sure government activity on cyber security is consistent with personal freedoms to use cyber space.
•Stepping up emergency exercise planning for attacks and analysing cyber-related threats in the CSOC.
•A cyber security skills strategy to plug skills gaps in government and industry.
•Making critical systems in the public and private sectors more resilient.
•Providing better advice to business and citizens about the nature of the risks and the protection they should take.
•Working with other countries to develop international law in this area.
Speaking at last week’s launch of the strategy, cyber security minister Lord West acknowledged that the terrorist aspect [of cyber warfare] was the least concern, but it was developing and warned that future targets could include key businesses, the national power grid, financial markets and Whitehall departments.
He said: “We know terrorists use the Internet for radicalisation and things like that at the moment, but there is a fear they will move down that path [of cyber attacks]. As their ability to use the web and the Net grows, there will be more opportunity for these attacks.”
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson, Tom Brake, warned that the strategy could extend ‘invasive’ counter-terror powers.
He said: “This new cyber security strategy could lead to an extension of the Government’s invasive counter-terrorism powers which already pose significant threats to our civil liberties.
“The cyber security strategy uses broad, undefined terms that risk creati

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