Feeds

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

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

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

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
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.