The Government must be more vigorous in its approach to cyber security, says the Parliamentary Defence Committee in its report published today.
The report notes that cyber threats can evolve with almost unimaginable speed and serious consequences for the nation’s security.
Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP, said “There is a consensus that cyberspace is a complex and rapidly changing environment. It was therefore important for us to consider the implications for UK defence and security. It is our view that cyber security is a sufficiently urgent, significant and complex activity to warrant increased ministerial attention. 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.”
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 due to their dependence on information and communication technology. The Committee probed MoD witnesses about its backup systems in these circumstances.
The Chair 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.
Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP, said “The opportunity created by cyber tools and techniques to enhance the military capabilities of our Armed Forces is clear. 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.”