The UK has been declared as being ‘reasonably well placed' to cope with a large-scale cyber attack.

After a House of Lords committee was gathered last year to investigate EU policy on cyber attacks, it said that while the internet was under constant threat of disruption from the actions of cyber criminals and hostile states, Britain was leading the way in cyber security within the EU.

According to BBC News, the Lords EU Home Affairs sub-committee warned that a plan to simulate the shutdown of the entire EU phone network this year was 'over ambitious' as many member states were not ready. Last year the UK government staged a simulation of a catastrophic nationwide failure of the phone network, codenamed ‘operation White Noise'.

Minister for Digital Britain Stephen Timms said in a letter to the committee that it needed to work with the telecoms industry ‘to avoid the obvious problem of not being able to manage a communications failure through lack of communications'.

The committee said: “We believe that the government and the EU should be giving greater attention to how cyber security could be developed on a global basis.”

The committee's aims were to focus on what the proper roles are for the EU and its member states in terms of enhancing governance, ensuring a strong EU wide incidence response capability, and bridging gaps in national policies for security of critical systems.

White House cyber security coordinator Howard Schmidt recently claimed at the RSA Conference that two themes were vital to the US's cyber security efforts: partnerships and transparency.

He said: “Transparency is particularly vital in areas, such as the CNCI, where there have been legitimate questions about sensitive topics like the role of the intelligence community in cyber security.

“Transparency provides the American people with the ability to partner with government and participate meaningfully in the discussion about how we can use the extraordinary resources and expertise of the intelligence community with proper oversight for the protection of privacy and civil liberties.”

Speaking at the SC Magazine Executive Network event last week, former Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Ian Blair claimed 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.

Ilias Chantzos, director of government relations EMEA and APJ at Symantec, said: “While there is no such thing as a defence and cyber security posture that is 100 per cent effective against all attacks, the proper combination of people, processes and technology can at least ensure that a critical infrastructure provider can withstand an attack, recover, and continue to operate.

“One of the biggest problems with supposed acts of cyber warfare is where and when to use the term. It is very difficult to determine the origin of an internet-based attack, and almost impossible to pinpoint either the identity or motivation of its perpetrators: whether they're a criminal, an activist or a government agent.

“For security agencies, following the trail of evidence left by alleged cyber warfare operations is made doubly complex by the fact that this evidence typically crosses international jurisdictions. Tackling this requires international co-operation, but the current levels of co-operation between nation states are often not able to police cyber crime, much less track covert activities.

“Another problem is that government no longer controls most of the critical infrastructure; much of it is under the control of the private sector. It is in the interest of industry and government to better cooperate to tackle these issues.”