What impact could defence spending cuts have on cyber security?

Opinion by Dan Raywood

With media reports claiming that there will be a series of Government cuts in defence, Jan Fry, head of PCI at ProCheckUp Labs, looks at the possible implications for cyber security.

With media reports claiming that there will be a series of Government cuts in defence, Jan Fry, head of PCI at ProCheckUp Labs, looks at the possible implications for cyber security.

In the middle of a whirlwind of spending cuts, it has emerged that extra funding may be put towards mitigating so-called ‘cyber attacks'.

Our esteemed leader, David Cameron, who once locked his bicycle to a bollard, has declared that cyber crime is a ‘new and growing' danger. While one could argue that the threat is hardly new, it most certainly is growing.

The media is often guilty of unnecessarily exaggerating the threat of such threats. Recently, however, the headlines have been writing themselves with no need for exaggeration. Most notably, this has involved industrial systems using SCADA.

The threats to SCADA systems are not new within the security research community. The Stuxnet worm is however, the first time that this threat has been actualised in a real-life scenario - worryingly, targeting a nuclear power plant in Iran.

This highlights the need for the National Security Council to take a holistic approach to national IT security. Historically, within the government and within information security in general, there has been a strong focus on dealing with the ‘insider threat'. While this threat should by no means be ignored, it is time to put an increased focus on internet-facing security.

The days of simple denial-of-service attacks are fading. The threat now comes from sophisticated attackers looking at all potential attack vectors, taking advantage of the very latest security research, a most formidable foe. ProCheckUp sees daily the results of these attacks and the affect it can have on the private and public sector.

It feels hypocritical to promote such fear, uncertainty and doubt, so I will try to end on a lighter note - I hope at least that Mr Cameron's approach to cyber security is better than his approach to bicycle security!

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