UK should go on the offensive in cyber war, say MPs

The Intelligence and Security Committee is concerned that UK’s cyber defence is still too immature

The UK should go on the attack in the cyber war, rather than just defend, according to MPs on the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).

This is because the committee believes that the UK's cyber defences are not mature enough yet to deal with the threat to national security.

"Twenty months into the National Cyber Security Programme, there appears to have been some progress in developing cyber capabilities. However, cyber security is a fast-paced field and delays in developing our capabilities give our enemies the advantage.

"We are therefore concerned that much of the work to protect UK interests in cyberspace is still at an early stage," the ISC said in its 2011-12 annual report.

Russia and China are suspected to be responsible for the majority of electronic attacks, which focus on acquiring information and espionage, the ISC said.

While the committee said that defending against cyber threats must be a priority for the UK, it believes that there are more proactive measures that the military and intelligence agencies could take.

Examples could be what the ISC termed 'active defence', which involves interfering with the systems of those trying to hack into UK networks, or accessing of data or networks of targets to obtain intelligence or to "cause an effect" without being detected.

The committee also suggested following the example of the Stuxnet virus - which it said UK agencies were not involved in - believed to have caused some disruption of Iran's nuclear enrichment programme, by accessing the networks or systems of enemies to hamper their capabilities without detection, or "at least without attribution".

In terms of the military, it suggested the destruction of data, networks or systems that are used to support armed conflict.

In 2010, the government announced the £650 million National Cyber Security Programme, which aims to transform the UK's cyber skills and capabilities by 2015.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Anh Nguyen

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts