Private sector to help Government tackle cyber crime

News 10 Nov, 2010

The minister of state for the armed forces has called on the private sector and academia to work with the Government in tackling cyber crime.

The private sector will play a key role in helping the UK Government tackle the threat of cyber crime.

This was the belief of Nick Harvey, minister of state for the armed forces, who claimed the Government needed to work with the private sector to keep up with the scale of the threat.

In a speech delivered yesterday to Chatham House, he said: “We must draw more effectively on the knowledge, experience and resources of the private sector who own and operate large parts of the critical networks that deliver our essential services.”

Harvey also said academics needed to be involved so the UK was able to “keep pace with new technologies,” and the pledge of £650 million investment into the National Cyber Security Programme will bring these influences together.

Harvey made his speech following the release of a report from Paul Cornish, head of the International Security Programme at Chatham House, which the minister claimed “challenges us to bring the debate out of the technical realm and into the political.”

Despite his praise for the opportunities the internet can bring, Harvey claimed “man is wolf to his fellow man” and it also brings a lot of dangers.

Referring to the Government’s plans to protect the nation from the cyber crime threat, Harvey said: “For me this is about protecting people’s privacy and livelihood, not diminishing them - this is about protecting the freedom and opportunity cyber space brings.”

However, he said we must understand the “changing character of conflict” and how a serious threat is being brought to cyber space.

Nations who may not be able to challenge the UK through conventional military means could take advantage of the opportunity the web brings, Harvey explained.

He cited four reasons why other nations could take advantage: the low threshold of entry whereby the same technology citizens use on a day to day basis can be abused for an attack, the lack of geographical barriers, relative anonymity for those who cause the attack and the rapid nature in which cyber crime could have mass effect.

“All this means that cyber is a powerful asymmetric tool for warfare,” said Harvey. “It can only be a matter of time before terrorists begin to use cyber space more systematically, not just as a tool for their own organisation, but as a method of attack.”