Whitehall and businesses face increasing cyber attacks
03 December 2012
Cyber attacks against the British government are continuing to increase and most companies have faced a costly cyber breach in the last year, a senior minister has warned.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude told MPs that "notable achievements" had been made in progressing the government's cyber security strategy.
British intelligence services had strengthened the UK's understanding of the cyber threat and their own ability to investigate threats from terrorists and "hostile foreign intelligence agencies".
Lessons had been learned from the Olympics. Police bodies were being structured to combat cyber crime. Collaboration with the private sector was improving. And the government had been working to educate and improve awareness of cyber threats with the general public at the same time as working to develop international co-operation.
But it was "clear that there is still much work to do", said Maude.
"Industry suffers at the hands of such threats," he said. "The 2012 PwC Information Security Breaches Survey found that 93 per cent of large corporations and 76 per cent of small businesses had a cyber security breach in the past year. With the cost for a security breach estimated between £110,000-250,000 for large businesses and £15,000-30,000 for smaller ones, these are losses which UK businesses can ill afford.
"And we are not immune in government. Attacks on government departments continue to increase."
New and emerging threats would now be taken into account and priorities regularly assessed.
The government was reviewing its national approach to cyber incident management and it intended to create a national computer emergency response team.
More work needed to be done to help make cyber security a priority in the private sector.
And skills also needed to improve. "We are constantly examining new ways to harness and attract the talents of the cyber security specialists that are needed for critical areas of work," the minister said.
"To this end, the MOD is taking forward the development of a 'cyber reserve', allowing the services to draw on the wider talent and skills of the nation in the cyber field."
For cyber crime, work would continue to "enhance" the capabilities of law enforcement.
The education system would also take a focus on cyber. PhD studentships would be offered by GCHQ, the minister said. And cyber security would also be built into undergraduate university degrees.