Following the series of recent distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed that it has strengthened its IT security defences.

Questioned in the House of Commons on how the Government was preparing to defend against strong online attacks, armed forces minister Nick Harvey said that action had been taken to improve cyber security. He said: “We attach a high priority to the cyber defence of our systems”, but asked MPs to understand why he could not comment further on the detail of those measures.

He also confirmed that the MoD is ‘committed to working closely with the private sector in defence not only of our own systems but of systems across government'. In October, cyber attacks were classified as one of the most serious threats to UK national security, when they were classified as a ‘tier 1' threat, on a par with acts of terrorism. A fund of £500 million (later raised to £650 million) was dedicated by the Government to deal with the online threat.

Ross Brewer, vice president and managing director for international markets at LogRhythm, said: “The threat of cyber attack seems to be at an all time high in the UK.  If an organisation with such a strong security mandate still has room for improvement, you can pretty much conclude that other public sector organisations need to make some changes too.”

The news follows media reports yesterday that claimed internet users across Europe could be encouraged into a ‘crowd sourcing' experiment against cyber crime. According to BBC News, Europol director Rob Wainwright briefed a Lords EU sub-committee on plans for a European cyber crime centre and admitted that the extent of the problem was often underestimated in Europe.

The plan is to launch an ‘internet crime reporting online system' that would collect all internet crime reported online at a national level, in a harmonised way across the European Union. This would have the ability to alert police in the 27 member states to ‘connections between different investigations'.

Wainwright said: “For the first time the EU will have a comprehensive overview of reported cyber crime from within its own borders and this could even include, in the future, a component of direct engagement with the public.”

Commenting, Mark Darvill, director at AEP Networks, said that the concept is not new but is an interesting development in the fight against cyber crime.

He said: “Just like citizens play a part in keeping the streets safe, internet users will sit at the heart of the effort to clean up the internet. Because cyber crime morphs at an incredible rate, the only way crowd sourcing can be effective will be through continuous education around the latest threats.  

“The internet sits at the heart of business, the economy, the military and national health systems, so keeping the internet a safe place shouldn't be the job of disparate law enforcement bodies. There needs to be a united effort to fight cyber crime, especially as we are seeing examples of cyber warfare.  

“Cyber crime has advanced and governments across Europe are upping the ante when it comes to fighting internet crime. For the EU Internal Security Strategy to be effective, governments across Europe need to unite in the fight against cyber crime.”