Feeds

Failing UK cyber defences need overhaul

MoD systems hit by hackers 71 times

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

The UK's National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre (NISCC) needs more powers to enforce security best practices in order to safeguard the nation's critical systems against cyber-attack, according to a former chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority.

Lord Toby Harris of Haringey called for the appointment of a government cyber security czar and legislation to change the role of the NISCC from providing information security advice to setting and enforcing information security standards. "At present NISCC is set up to fail. Advice is not a guarantee of action," said Lord Harris.

Lord Harris conceded that this stricter regulation regime would be more expensive to maintain. Ultimately taxpayers would have to pay for better security to critical systems such as those run by utilities, food distribution networks, banks and government itself.

But inaction is not an option when even the "most secure systems appear to be vulnerable". Lord Harris said that since May 2002 71 Ministry of Defence systems had been "compromised by malicious programs". The Lovgate virus infected 4,000 MoD PCs and took four weeks to get rid of. More recently British Coast Guard systems were knocked over by the Sasser worm. "There is real and present danger not just from cyber delinquents but from cyber criminals and terrorists," he said.

Lord Harris made his comments during a keynote address at the Infosecurity trade show in London on Tuesday. The independent peer's comments reignite a debate on regulation aired at February's RSA Conference. Lord Harris' reference to the risk of an "electronic 9/11" irked some delegates who reckon politicians often overstate risks in an effort to get their point across. Tighter security regulations need to apply to suppliers as well as users and Lord Harris's call for international co-operation on the enforcement of cyber crime standards are likely to flounder on US opposition to tighter government regulations. Until UK politicians take cyber crime more seriously few of his other ideas are likely to come to fruition. ®

Related stories

Big guns back UK IT security drive
UK.gov deploys IT early warning system
Taleban can't hack UK govt
Regulate this

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Why Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had to go ... Except he hasn't
Silicon Valley's veteran seadog in piratical Putin impression
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.