Cyberthreats among top threats to UK, gov't says

Cyberattacks rank alongside terrorism and pandemics as major threats to the UK, according to the UK National Security Strategy
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor on

Cyberattacks are among the most significant threats facing the UK, according to the government.

Major threats include cyberattacks, terrorism and military crises, the government said in its National Security Strategy [PDF] on Monday. "The National Security Council judged that currently — and for the next five years — tackling the risks from terrorism, cyberattack, military crises and major accidents or natural hazards should be our highest priority objectives," the strategy's authors stated. "Government, the private sector and citizens are under sustained cyberattack today, from both hostile states and criminals."

The government said it will develop a "transformative programme for cybersecurity" to address the threat. The strategy was published a day ahead of the government's Strategic Defence Review, which will lay out UK defence resourcing and plans.

In a House of Lords debate on Thursday, Lord Reid of Cardowan and Lord Browne of Ladyton, both former Labour cabinet secretaries, called for more international co-operation to prevent cyberattacks. UK security minister Baroness Neville-Jones said in the debate that the UK will continue to build on the work of the UK computer security agency the Cyber Security Operations Centre.

Government should work with private businesses and citizens to counteract the threats, said Neville-Jones. "There is no doubt that the saliency of cybersecurity is increasing greatly," she said.

The debate followed a speech on Tuesday by Iain Lobban, the director of GCHQ, who warned that UK systems are under persistent cyberattack.

Michael Chertoff, the former secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, told ZDNet UK on Thursday that the US and its allies should formulate a doctrine to deal with cyberattacks that is similar to the principle of nuclear deterrence.

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