Feeds

Cyberattack Blighty and we'll use 'military means' - UK gov

Once we've sent a letter and had a chat, naturally

Intelligent flash storage arrays

LCC Any British response to a foreign state’s cyberattack would be proportionate, a Foreign Office official told The Register yesterday.

On Monday, UK Prime Minister David Cameron told the London Conference on Cyberspace (LCC) that threats of electronic attacks were “a real and pressing concern” for the country.

“This summer a significant attempt on the Foreign Office system was foiled. These are attacks on our national interest. They are unacceptable. And we will respond to them as robustly as we do any other national security threat,” Dave said.

John Duncan, the FCO’s special representative for the conference, told El Reg that the nation's response, military or otherwise, to cyberattacks was under constant review.

“The UK has just revised its nuclear declaratory policy, that is a reflection of the way the world is changing,” he said.

“As we look at the response to an attack through cyberspace, you can be quite sure that the government will keep this very closely under review to ensure that we respect the obligation to act proportionately - which is the fundamental principle of armed force. That’s a really key point in understanding what the Prime Minister is saying,” he added.

Duncan said that a major problem in dealing with international hacking attempts was working out where attacks are coming from.

“If one country launches an attack on another country using proxies – be they proxies in the original sense, meaning agents of that country, or proxy servers in the cyberspace world – we have to judge whether that is actually coming from a country,” he said. “And the first step is the diplomatic means and then the military means, as it has always been. We have to stand ready to respond in kind, because we’re very vulnerable, we’re all very vulnerable.”

Rise of the gangster-hacker

In other cases the attack may be coming from within a country, but enacted by criminal gangs or groups of terrorists, another possibility the government has to investigate.

“We no longer have the certainties of the Cold War,” Duncan said. “It’s very difficult to identify what the threat is and therefore it’s very difficult to train against the threat and to budget for the threat.

“It’s the non-state actor and the proxy actor that is the more dangerous threat to us today and it’s more difficult to prepare for because you don’t know where it’s coming from,” he added, acknowledging that it was the same in the real world.

Some would suggest that a weapon governments would like to have in their arsenal to deal with online issues is the ability to constrict social networks, something that has come up during the conference while both the Foreign Secretary William Hague and the Prime Minister have insisted that the UK supports an open and free internet.

After the summer riots, the government considered a move against the websites and services used by looters to communicate and organise raids.

“If you see something that’s a threat on one side of the cyberspace architecture, you have to be really careful in understanding that if you take action against it, it doesn’t damage the other parts of the architecture that you are trying to promote,” Duncan said. “And the British government did understand that.”

“There was a reaction of ‘What’s happening here, we need to have a look at it', and the conclusion was we should not do anything to constrain Facebook and BlackBerry and all those things because it would damage other things we are trying to do,” he added. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
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?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.