Former Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Ian Blair speaks on the danger cyber terrorism could have on the UK, along with organised hackers and the insider threat

News by Dan Raywood

The problems of the insider threat and the effect of cyber terrorism have been detailed from a law enforcement perspective.

The problems of the insider threat and the effect of cyber terrorism have been detailed from a law enforcement perspective.

Speaking in an ‘overview of the security situation' at the SC Magazine Executive Network in central London last night, former Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Ian Blair covered several subjects relating to policing and terrorism, and referred to comparisons with the private sector and the problem with the insider threat.

Speaking to the delegates he said: “Everything that you do is about protecting systems from external threat, and I think that there is an interesting analogy about my previous organisation and concerns about police corruption. It is endemic, it is there, it is part of the world in which we operate and if you run a criminal operation and want to produce your business plan you find a corrupt cop.

“We did some analysis on the likely candidates, and it would be a disillusioned, passed-over detective, who had a terrible home life and would have agencies coming after him for money and would have sacked officers. We found two other spikes – one was young women officers with criminal boyfriends, and the third was the ‘geek IT user' out the back who was accessing and selling information.

“So it is an issue of where are we with the internal and external threats, and I would have thought that while they would not necessarily sell as much equipment, any organisation that explains to its clients that one of the things that you have to look for is the internal threat.”

Speaking on information communication technology security, Blair said that he was not an expert, but was ‘extremely interested'. He said that after speaking to a senior police officer, this was potentially the greatest threat to the UK by the end of this decade.

He pointed to the Olympics, which could be a major embarrassment should the power grid be hit, and it would be a disaster for the UK. He also said that cyber space is ‘an entirely ungoverned arena' and working out how to govern it may be one of the biggest decisions of the next 20 years.

Referring to a June 2009 Chatham House report, he mentioned an IRA statement after the Brighton bombing in 1984, which said: ‘We did not succeed, but you need to be successful all of the time, we only need to be successful once'.

Blair said: “There are organised gangs, but the most worrying part is that there are some parts that are specifically not organised. They are almost momentary alliances and to combat that is very difficult.”

He also spoke on prior intelligence on Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, calling 9/11 the ‘most audacious terrorist attack in history', but one that concentrated our minds on trying to protect the institutions, and also spoke about the British failed shoe bombers and other terror threats leading up to the London bombings on 7th July 2005.


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