Intelligent thinking - well, any sort of thinking, really - is fairly rare in Westminster but we have an excellent example of it today in the form of a report from the Defence Committee as reported in The Telegraph:
James Arbuthnot, committee chairman, said: “"It is our view that cyber
security is a sufficiently urgent, significant and complex activity to warrant
increased ministerial attention.
"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."
The catastrophic shambles that would ensue across the country if a cyber attack was only partially successful hardly bears thinking about. I don't believe many of us are even aware of the huge complexity of the networks which support almost all aspects of our lives and daily business. It is only when one breaks down, usually due to human error, that we are momentarily shocked, like that recent bank 'snafu' when suddenly cheques and money transfers failed. Imagine if, say, 50% of our networks across a whole range of activities were damaged or destroyed - what then? Even more to the point would be the effect on our armed forces:
The defence committee report concluded: “The armed forces now so dependent on
information and communications technology, should such systems suffer a
sustained cyber attack, their ability to operate could be fatally compromised,"
the committee said.
It said there was an “inevitable inadequacy of the measures available to
protect against a constantly changing and evolving threat” and that it was not
enough for armed forces just to “do their best” to prevent an effective attack.
The extent of information and communication technology in weapons, satellite
and intelligence systems means “many more points of vulnerability”.
Currently, there are some major cuts slashing away at our armed services, and quite right, too, in my opinion, but some serious money should be spent on the creation of a joint military and civil agency to combat cyber warfare. This will not be cheap - the top people in 'computeronics' (there, a little neologism just for you!) demand and receive top money but it has to be done and done quickly. It's no good depending on the generals and admirals, they don't understand it any more than you or I, and frankly, if it doesn't go bang they are not very interested! What we need is a leader from the computer/software industry, provided with a massive budget to set up an entirely new agency. It needs the Prime Minister to get behind the project and push it through as a matter of urgency - oh dear, why do I suddenly feel depressed?