UK Armed Forces at Risk of Cyber Attack

MPs have warned that Britain’s armed forces could be “fatally compromised” by a sustained cyber attack due to their ever increasing reliance on information and communication technology that have no proven backup or contingency plans in place.

The Defence Select Committee has released a report that questions the military’s contingency plans and that the government needs to become more proactive and take control of the situation as quickly as possible.

James Arbuthnot, the committee’s chairman, stated, “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.”

If the armed forces were to be hit by a sustained cyber attack, the consequences could be frightening. Entire combat units such as battleship and aircraft units could be deemed useless as radars and satellites could be targeted and paint a false picture of the battlefield.

The committee also stated, “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 sustained cyber attack, their ability to operate could be fatally compromised.”

The Minister for International Security Strategy, Dr Andrew Murrison, has defended the Government’s level of involvement and efforts so far.

Murrison stated, “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 importance we attach to these issues.”

Jim Murphy who is the Shadow defence secretary has stressed the importance to continue to develop cyber-security strategies and for everyone to work together to help improve the defences against the ever evolving cyber attacks.

Murphy stated, “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.”

With the ever increasing sophistication and number of cyber attacks that are taking place, the importance of having a secure and robust backup solution and contingency plans in place is as great as ever. Becoming the victim of a successful cyber attack could lead to catestrophic consequences in both the short and long term if your data is lost or modified and cannot be successfully recovered.

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