Armed forces are vulnerable to cyber attack, warn MPs
Commons Defence Committee said threat to UK security had ability to evolve at 'almost unimaginable speed'
Wednesday 09 January 2013
The armed forces are now so dependent on information technology that their ability to operate could be “fatally compromised” by a sustained cyber attack, MPs warned today.
The Commons Defence Committee said the cyber threat to UK security had the ability to evolve at "almost unimaginable speed" and questioned whether the Government had the capacity to deal with it.
It called on ministers to take a more hands-on approach to ensure proper contingency plans were in place.
The committee heard evidence that entire combat units, such as aircraft and warships, could be rendered completely dysfunctional by a cyber attack.
Experts warned an enemy could seek to target radar or satellites to create a "deceptive picture" in the military command structure while the increased use of unmanned drones and battlefield robots potentially added to the vulnerability.
"The evidence we received leaves us concerned that with the armed forces now so dependent on information and communications technology, should such systems suffer a sustainedcyber attack, their ability to operate could be fatally compromised," the committee said.
"Given the inevitable inadequacy of the measures available to protect against a constantly changing and evolving threat ... it is not enough for the armed forces to do their best to prevent an effective attack.
"In its response to this report the Government should set out details of the contingency plans it has in place should such an attack occur. If it has none, it should say so - and urgently create some."
The committee accused ministers of "complacency" over the failure to develop rules of engagement covering the military response to a cyber attack on the UK.
"Events in cyberspace happen at great speed. There will not be time, in the midst of a major international incident, to develop doctrine, rules of engagement or internationally-accepted norms of behaviour," it said.
"There is clearly still much work to be done on determining what type or extent of cyber attack would warrant a military response."
Committee chairman James Arbuthnot said it was now essential that ministers took the lead in ensuring effective plans were in place to cope with the threat.
"It is our view that cyber security is a sufficiently urgent, significant and complex activity to warrant increased ministerial attention," he said.
"The Government needs to put in place - as it has not yet done - mechanisms, people, education, skills, thinking and policies which take into account both the opportunities and the vulnerabilities which cyberspace presents."
Defence Minister Andrew Murrison rejected accusations of complacency, saying the Government was investing £650 million over four years in the national cyber security strategy programme.
"The UK Armed Forces and the equipment and assets they use are amongst the world's most modern and advanced, so of course information technology plays a vital role in their operation," he said.
"Far from being complacent, the MoD takes the protection of our systems extremely seriously and has a range of contingency plans in place to defend against increasingly sophisticated attacks although, for reasons of national security, we would not discuss these in detail.
"Government funding to tackle this threat underlines the important we attach to these issues."
Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said: "This report is worrying. The Government stand accused of complacency and lacking contingency planning.
"Policy progress is falling behind the pace of the threat our armed forces face.
"Developing professional expertise, advanced research, bringing public and private sectors together, using procurement to promote best practice and working with international partners are all essential elements of a comprehensive cyber-security strategy for our forces.
"Vulnerabilities must be tackled urgently and ministers must respond in detail to the demands in this report. Cyber demands new strategies and capabilities as part of a necessarily diverse modern defence posture."
Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax
- 1 Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
- 2 Shia LaBeouf claims he was raped during #IAMSORRY art installation performance
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler after death of Phil Hughes
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
Kim Jong-un 'in dire need of allies' within his own government as younger sister appointed to senior role
Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Michael Buerk wishes he killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Plebgate: Andrew Mitchell’s reputation in tatters as judge rules he used the word ‘pleb’
£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...
£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...
£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...
£60k - 80k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...