How to guard against the great security threat of the 21st centuryby Prospect Team / September 5, 2019 / Leave a comment
Britain is confronted with a new threat. The rise of the internet has brought benefits but also dangers. Cyberattacks now rank among the most pressing security threats we face, with risks to personal data, critical infrastructure and even democratic elections. The challenge—and focus of this report—is how to secure the perimeter and keep Britain safe.
The government has begun to wake up to the danger. In 2016 it launched a new cybersecurity strategy, accompanied by a dedicated new cyber centre under the umbrella of GCHQ. Its director of operations, Paul Chichester, told Prospect the focus is on ensuring “the UK’s digital homeland is as secure as possible.” Nigel Adams, Minister of State at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, puts forward the government’s plan himself here.
But will it be enough? Other contributors to this report are not convinced. Margaret Beckett, former foreign secretary and Chair of the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, condemns what she views as worrying complacency from a government that’s still underprepared,
Others warn simply of the danger if we don’t get our approach right—David Omand, the former intelligence chief, is among them. A category-one attack could do immense damage, as our interview makes clear.
There is certainly more work to do on the domestic front, with extra investment, effective collaboration between the government and business, even a dedicated cabinet minister responsible for cyber all advocated for in these pages. Most important of all is acknowledging the danger; hopefully the furore over technology giant Huawei has pulled the issue up the agenda in the UK.
But of course, the cyberthreat is cross border, meaning international collaboration will also be crucial. Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of Nato, explains how the North Atlantic Alliance is preparing. Alarmingly, he says Nato suffers cyberattacks “every day,” while warning that a serious breach could trigger the collective defence commitment, where an attack on one ally is treated as an attack on all. Such is the scale of this new threat.
Criminal activity has evolved. True, we have a strong intelligence apparatus on our side and are well placed to adapt if we move fast enough. But the years ahead will be critical.
Securing Britain’s networks
Give businesses the protectionthey need
Nato will defend itself
The alliance could invoke collective defence
Interview: ex-GCHQ chief
Critical infrastructure is vulnerable
David Omand speaks to Alex Dean
When, not if
A category-one attack is just a matter of time
Proper defences pay for themselves
Keep Huawei out
The telecoms giant is not a safe partner
The age of cyber warfare
A new kind of conflict
Cybercrime: the numbers
Businesses are exposed and criminals are profiting
Don’t forget diversity
Provide cyber jobs for marginalised groups
When misinformation reigns
Fake news corrodes democracy
Karin von Hippel & Jonathan Eyal
This report forms part of Prospect’s work on cybersecurity. For more information on this report and our wider programme of activity please email: firstname.lastname@example.org . To view a PDF click here.