The good, the bad and the ugly

Opinion by Dan Raywood

When it comes to government and cyber security, there is a definite case of the good, the bad and the ugly.

When it comes to government and cyber security, there is a definite case of the good, the bad and the ugly.

The good has been in work such as the Cyber Security Strategy, launched last November to propose a single reporting hub for information exchange and a cyber crime unit within the National Crime Agency. While not all is great about that proposal, and ISPs and former Home Secretary John Reid were among those who were critical, it did show some initiative and forward thinking by government into this sector.

If there were a bad, well then there could be plenty of evidence. Take the government's continued use of Internet Explorer 6 (as reported in 2010) or the more recent proposals on voice, email and internet monitoring that came under huge criticism from the public and world wide web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Finally, there has to be an ugly, and for me this came last week. I read about Francis Maude's comments in a typically short story in Metro and found the basis of it via the Press Association. I was hoping that the man who created a panic around petrol had been misquoted, but having read the story, it seems that the Metro writers picked the finest comments from Maude.

Maude, who is the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, said that as UK government computer networks are "regularly targeted" by foreign intelligence agencies and groups working on their behalf, the London Olympics "will not be immune to cyber attacks by those who would seek to disrupt the Games".

We know this could be the biggest challenge businesses face this decade, hence why preparation is key and it is right for those in positions not to cause unnecessary panic with statements using scare tactics.

I have no doubt that with all eyes on London for more than a month as the Olympics and Paralympics dominate the summer sporting calendar, not to mention an overlap into the start of the English Premier League (best in the world, don't you know), cyber criminals will use this as a base for online phishing and malware attacks.

As for attacks on infrastructure and government networks, yes it could happen, but spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) will achieve nothing, and I anticipate more will have read the reports, considered them and moved on to the next page. A threat and a possible solution, combined with a 'keep calm and carry on, we've got it covered' message, is a much more ethical way of speaking to the public on cyber security.

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