How much influence does the government have on cyber security?

News by Dan Raywood

Questions have been asked on how much involvement the government should have when it comes to cyber crime and online issues.

Questions have been asked on how much involvement the government should have when it comes to cyber crime and online issues.

Research by Sourcefire and Dynamic Markets has found that 74 per cent of employees expect the UK government to be taking positive steps towards providing a safe environment.

Last week Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg detailed plans to reduce data stored about members of the public, while Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones revealed that cyber security and resilience was discussed by the National Security Council on the first day of the new government.

However 60 per cent of IT security managers criticise government initiatives to combat cyber crime, according to the research, with 36 per cent thinking it is just a PR exercise to win votes.

In a roundtable discussion Peter Wood, fellow of the British Computer Society, admitted that you ‘cannot police the internet', but asked how it would be feasible and people expect the government to protect them.

Jonathan Armstrong, lawyer at Duane Morris LLP, said: “There is legislation but it is not a legislative vacuum, but if we are being specific the Data Protection Act has the seven principles and most organisations make some wacky statements about security on their website that lives to haunt them: they will say our site is secure, we never retain your credit card details, we never share your data with other people – when they all do. That is actionable under the Fair Trade Act from the US that is not law in the UK, and it has been used in the US to police that sort of statement and every trading standards officer in the UK has the power to take action.

"But it is not a lack of legislation, it is a lack of interest in and or resources to police the legislation that already exists."

Dominic Storey, technical director EMEA at Sourcefire, agreed and said that he did not want to live in a ‘nanny state'. He said: “I could envisage a day when you have work done on your house and you have a guy to validate it, I could see the equivalent happening in business, but it probably won't stop there because the flipside of the government controlling internet access is one of censorship, do you want to censor free speech?”


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