UK target for 'large number' of cyberattacks

Security minister Lord West has warned that the government is tackling ongoing state-sponsored cyberattacks on UK national infrastructure

The government has said it is engaged in tackling ongoing state-sponsored cyberattacks on UK national infrastructure.

Security minister Lord West told the House of Lords that the UK continues to be targeted by a "large number of attacks" and that the government is "taking action" to deal with those backed by hostile regimes.

Lord West refused to confirm the nature or origin of these attacks but said cybersecurity is a "very dangerous area" and that the UK has become "more vulnerable as we become more connected".

He said: "It ranges from individual hackers right through to state-sponsored issues. It is something we should be worried about. We discussed the issue in a Cabinet meeting two months ago, I think we are going in the right direction."

National and international bodies are in place to defend against these cyberattacks, and cyberattacks occupied recent G8 discussions in Tokyo, he said.

Lord West said there are several layers of defence on the domestic front, ranging from computer emergency response teams protecting the public sector, to the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) security response teams defending the private sector.

The national response to cyberattacks is co-ordinated by the Central Sponsor for Information Assurance, which is part of the Cabinet Office.

West was unable to give guarantees of total security for data held on the National Identity Register and large NHS databases, saying he did not have the relevant information, but added that "if a system is connected then there is a possibility of getting into a system".

He admitted past failings in the public sector security due to delays in issuing patches in time but said that the government is committed to continuing to improve response times.

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