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London Olympics 'not immune' to cyber attack

Blighty puts together crack team to guard against intrusion

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Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has warned that the London Olympics will not be immune to cyber attack.

The man who urged all Blighty to start stocking up on petrol by pouring it into jerry cans said that a crack team has been set up dedicated to guarding the Games against attack.

"The Beijing Olympics saw 12 million cyber security incidents during their Olympics," he said.

"We have rightly been preparing for some time – a dedicated unit will help guard the London Olympics against cyber attack – we are determined to have a safe and secure Games."

Speaking during a visit to Estonia, Maude said the UK was well aware of the dangers from "the dark side of the internet".

"UK Government networks continue to be regularly targeted by foreign intelligence agencies, or groups working on their behalf - and we know that the threat is accelerating," he said.

"High-end cyber security solutions that were used 18 months ago by a limited number of organisations to protect their networks may already be out in the open marketplace - giving cyber criminals the knowledge to get round these protective measures.

"Our responses have to be fast and flexible. What works one day is unlikely to work a matter of months or even weeks later," he added.

The minister, who is also responsible for the Office for Cyber Security, said the country had already made moves to protect its infrastructure with the launch of the National Cyber Security Programme and the decision to rate cyber intrusions as a tier one threat to national security.

Maude added that £650m had been allocated over four years to fund responses to cyber attacks and announced that £400,000 was being committed this year to the Get Safe Online campaign which gives out advice on internet safety.

"A recent survey showed that one in seven large organisations have been hacked in the last year, with large organisations facing one outsider attack per week; small businesses face one a month," he said.

"Intellectual property theft through cyber crime is a major concern. Countries and organisations across the globe are losing billions of pounds each year to cyber criminals."

Maude said there had to be partnership between the public and private sectors to protect against online crime.

"There needs to be more alerting and greater awareness of attacks - with private organisations working in partnership with each other, government and law enforcement agencies, sharing information and resources so we can build up a better picture of the threats we’re facing and collectively fight a common challenge," he said.

However, he insisted that the government was going to resist the temptation to over-regulate the internet and try to take control of it.

"The internet after all has flourished precisely because it has been shaped by its users, not by governments," he said.

Maude was speaking to the International Centre for Defence Studies in Estonia, which is rated one of the most connected countries in the world and a pioneer in cyber security. ®

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