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MPs slam government for ‘lack of leadership’ in cyber security

MPs on the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy have slammed the government for “the absence of political leadership” in dealing with the threat of cyber-attacks.

The threat to the UK’s critical national infrastructure (CNI) – including the health service, energy, water and transport – is as credible, likely and potentially damaging as any other threat.

It is a matter of “when, not if,” according to the head National Cyber Security Centre, and the WannaCry cyber attack on the NHS last year epitomises the potential major disruption a cyber attack could have.

Back in February, it was reported that councils face 37 cyber-attacks a minute – but over half of these breaches go unreported.

The committee therefore recommends that, as the economy becomes more interconnected, the definition of CNI should be reviewed and “should be informed by a mapping of the key interdependencies between CNI sectors,” and be continuously reviewed.

Amongst other recommendations, the committee also urged the government to appoint a Cabinet Office minister dedicated to the UK’s cyber resilience.

Chair of the committee, Margaret Beckett MP, said: “We are struck by the absence of political leadership at the centre of government in responding to this top-tier national security threat.

“It is a matter of real urgency that the government makes clear which Cabinet Minister has cross-government responsibility for driving and delivering improved cyber security, especially in relation to our critical national infrastructure.”

Becket also noted her committee’s other report released last week that highlighted importance of building cyber security, adding: “Too often in our past the UK has been ill-prepared to deal with emerging risks.

“The government should be open about our vulnerability and rally support for measures which match the gravity of the threat to our critical national infrastructure.”

Top image: gorodenkoff


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