Parliament Inquiry to Tackle Growing Cyber Threat

Parliament has launched a new inquiry into the UK’s cybersecurity posture as fears mount over the threat to critical infrastructure, businesses and the democratic process posed by foreign hackers.

The Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy features members of the Commons and Lords and is set to consider the £1.9bn National Cyber Security Strategy launched in November 2016.

Former home secretary Margaret Beckett, who is Chair of the committee, argued in a statement that the digital revolution has opened up new opportunities but also new threats.

“The national security implications of the leap to cyber are a matter of increasing concern,” she added.

“Attention has recently focused on the potential exploitation of the cyber domain by other states and associated actors for political purposes, but this is just one source of threat that the government must address through its recently launched five-year strategy."

Despite her comments, and although the committee’s latest inquiry was set-up independent of revelations of Russian interference in the US elections, such concerns will certainly be addressed.

The fear is that the Kremlin is increasingly using a combination of cyber-espionage, propaganda and false news to undermine the legitimacy of Western democracies.

Angela Merkel has already expressed concerns about the upcoming Bundestag elections and there have been similar mutterings in France ahead of the presidential elections there this year.

Jon Geater, CTO at Thales e-Security, welcomed the inquiry as a response to a real and growing threat.

“The launch of this national inquiry into cybersecurity, along with the recent launch of the National Cyber Security Centre, show that the UK government is not only taking a threat-based approach to security – in which it actively analyses the types of attacks it might realistically face – but is also genuinely moving the state of security forwards,” he added.

“It has decried scare tactics and the ‘monster under the bed’ approach of reactive endpoint security in favour of active conscious protection. The government is explicitly recognizing the requirement to work with industry experts and forward-looking companies to share the responsibility of keeping society safe, as networks and software become the lifeblood of our critical infrastructure and daily lives.”

The committee is looking for experts to pen written submissions on areas including: current threat types and sources; the capacity of the UK’s financial, technical and human resources to deal with threats; the development of offensive cyber capabilities; the relationship between public and private sectors; and how the UK can cooperate with allies on info sharing, standard setting and the development of capabilities.  

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