UK unveils its Cyber Security Strategy

Contributor:  Andrew Elwell
Posted:  11/25/2011  12:00:00 AM EST
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Tags:   cyber security

Today the UK government unveiled its Cyber Security Strategy, which details the safeguards that must be put in place to ensure the country’s cyber networks are secured against potential digital threats.

 “This strategy not only deals with the threat from terrorists to our national security, but also with the criminals who threaten our prosperity as well as blight the lives of many ordinary people through cyber crime,” said Prime Minister David Cameron.  “Cyber security is a top priority for government and we will continue to work closely with the police, security services, international partners and the private sector to ensure that the UK remains one of the most secure places in the world to do business.”

Following the inaugural London Conference on Cyberspace earlier this month, the cyber strategy seeks to engage the public to increase awareness as well as collaborating with the private sector to improve the country’s cyber defences.

Minister for Cyber Security Francis Maude said: “Closer partnership between the public and private sector is crucial. The strategy heralds a new era of unprecedented cooperation between the government and industry on cyber security, working hand in hand to make the UK one of the most secure places in the world to do business.”

Indicating how seriously the government is taking the digital threat, earlier this week the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and other banking organisations carried out a city-wide test to understand the level of disruption caused by a major cyber attack during the London 2012 Olympics.

In conjunction with the strategy the government has previously set aside £650 million for its four-year National Cyber Security Programme.

The unveiling of the Cyber Security Strategy has been fairly reserved, wisely dodging the grand rhetoric which all-too-often accompanies anything related to “cyberspace”. The UK was expected to reveal a strategy that was similar to that America released in the summer, which was heavy on the rhetoric, effectively stating that a cyber ‘Pearl Harbour’ would provoke the same military reaction as a physical ‘Pearl Harbour’ attack did. So the coalition’s restraint on this should be noted – it is far more about engaging with the public and private sector, encouraging collaboration and collectively increasing security.

Norway recently revealed that ten of its leading defence and energy companies had been targeted by a cyber hacking group in series of unprecedented attacks. But the news coverage that preceded it went too far. Stealing IP from the private sector, even state secrets from the government, is not an act of war. With the UK’s muted policy today it seems to be acknowledging this distinction.

Andrew Elwell Contributor:   Andrew Elwell

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