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UK To Prioritise Cybercrime

A new UK emergency response unit has been proposed as part of an effort to offer individuals and businesses immediate advice when their IT infrastructure is affected by a cyber attack.

The initiative is just one of many announced by the Cabinet Office, following the government's plans to make cyber threats a tier-one priority.

In addition, the Ministry of Defence is also set to come up with a 'cyber-reserve' of specialists within the private sector in the hope of providing the military necessary backup in a field where experts are lacking. However, many believe the government is investing too heavily in 'top-end' cyber expertise instead of informing the public on basic computer defence skills.

"You could take £1m out of the budget of GCHQ and they wouldn't notice," Professor Peter Sommer told the BBC. "That kind of money would have a transforming effect. While much of the government's work is well thought out, they still underestimate the extent to which some breaches are the fault of humans and not the result of external cyber criminals and spies.

"They also underplay the need to educate consumers and small businesses, both to protect themselves and to stop their machines being taken over as part of botnets, which then attack others. Out of the total cyber security budget, less the £400,000 goes to the main public information service, GetSafeOnline. That is less than 0.1%."

Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, detailed the government's plans in a ministerial statement to mark the first anniversary of the national cyber security strategy. Whilst he has confirmed developments in this area, he referred to information from a study in which 93 per cent of large enterprises as well as 76 per cent of small businesses had suffered a cyber attack within the last year.

Maude hopes to learn from the defence operations practised during the Olympics through the creation of a UK national computer emergency response division, but details have yet to be confirmed.

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