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Competently Coping With Cyber

November 25, 2015

 Editorial 

 

In a determined effort to bolster Britain’s national security in the midst of the growing dangers of terrorism and other threats, Mr Osborne’s cyber plan will prove vital for now and the future

Just days after the horrific events which took place in numerous locations within the city of Paris, with the terrorist group IS being the vexing culprits responsible, heightened fears of more attacks to come across Europe and has created another shift in the great migrant debate of how to enhance and ensure more effective national security. No country should undermine the growing capabilities of the group, especially when it is now trying to further enhance its cyber capabilities, planning to initiate devastating cyber attacks on hospitals, schools and the like. Not only does this make anybody a potential target, but the cumulative effect of a successful cyber attack can prove detrimental not only in economic terms but in terms of costing lives. This, therefore, most definitely should be a powerful incentive for governments to bulk up its cyber security, and George Osborne, who announced in November Britain’s new plans for cyber security over this parliament and beyond, is certainly making the right step in coping with the realities of the future.

 

First of all the establishing of a new National Cyber Centre would allow for a what would essentially be a cyber hub dedicated to sharing information expertise with GCHQ to better cope with cyber attacks against Britain. The establishment of such an institution would free up the process of developing cyber capabilities from other rivalry sectors which may be obstructive. The chancellor has made sure he had given plenty of wiggle room financially to bulk up investments contributing towards more robust defences. He has committed to basically double investments into Britain’s cyber capabilities over five years adding up to £1.9 billion. Furthermore adding the expenditure to ensure the sufficient protection of networks and to secure online services total up the spending on cyber-related policies over £3.2 billion. It’s not just the enacting of these significant investments into the cyber domain which is needed, but also establishing it as an independent department which would allow the cyber capabilities of Britain to advance without investments being possibly distorted if the dedicated cyber security schemes were part of a greater governmental department. Allowing the new cyber centre to be free of bureaucratic rivalry would ultimately allow it to fully benefit from the investments it receives and also critically allows the developments in cyber security to pursue swiftly, with more clarity and less complexity which is imperative in order to respond and adjust to the belligerent and dangerous cyber domain.

 

Secondly, in terms of the specific development of Britain’s cyber capabilities, the Conservative UK government has appeared to have recognised that its commitment to greater to security for Britain in the cyber domain cannot be done alone. In fact, for a more effective approach to cybersecurity, it is quite crucial to work with the private sector. Only by working with ISP’s (internet service providers) and other businesses can the UK government have the best chance of implementing adequate and sound cyber defences and proficiencies. Its move to strengthen its Active Defence programme would enable a far more sophisticated approach to tackling malware and other malicious software and would better  identify websites or ‘bad addresses’ which also have embedded malevolent software of which users of the internet can be so easily prone to. Achieving these things does require a collaborative effort between the government and businesses in the tech industry, particularly since much of the infrastructure belongs to the private sector, meaning that in the realm of cyber, the government cannot truly be the sole provider of security. One of the more worrying aspects currently in cyberspace is that the bad actors online, or the malicious software used to expose computer networks and systems, are always more advanced than the methods and protections developed to defend against them and, thus, one way to help catch up is to work with those businesses working in the area of cyber to give the government the best chance of ensuring national security in the cyberspace.

 

Moreover, in addition to working with the private sector, the government has also shown its forward-looking mindset by recognising that it will not just be enough to develop a system for improved cyber security for the current existing dangers, but for the future threats of which nobody may be able to anticipate now. Therefore, when facing an uncertain future, the British government has very wisely made plans for a new Institute for Coding as well as a cyber skills programme. Investing in developing a workforce with the appropriate skill set enables the government to construct and prepare a cyber force essentially for the future. Furthermore attracting those with an expertise in cyber, including young people by nurturing their talent in coding and computer science, will no doubt have a positive impact on the government's overall cyber agenda. Since people are learning to code and are far more knowledgeable about computers and technology in general at a younger age, it is very key that the government takes advantage of this pool of talent, helping advance the nation’s cyber capabilities and security and make a better attempt at filling any skills gap. In addition to employing those who specialise in the nitty-gritty of the cyber world, the implementation of training and recruiting facilities brings in those who can attend to the legal, social and even political ramifications of cyber, since it is a domain in which much vagueness and ambiguity still lies. Thus, this allows for British cyber defence which is flexible and modernistic and will prove to be absolutely imperative in providing adequate cyber security.

 

On top of all this lies the importance of clarifying the universal and necessary rules and regulations by which all businesses would have to abide by. Having a standard set of mandatory requirements, and ensuring that they are as clear as day should also help with not only holding those liable when a breach occurs as a result of failing to comply with the appropriate procedures expected but also ensures a consistency which would overall make the UK’s cyber defences far more robust. Since there is a reliance on connectivity and networks, all kinds of businesses and organisations will be linked together like a chain, in which any weak link would result in the potential exposure of not just a few, but everyone. The formation of such rules would better prevent the antics of TalkTalk and others who have fallen victim to cyber attacks. It is therefore in the best interest of all businesses and organisations alike within the economy to follow elucidated, strong and sufficient rules and standards to enable greater security for all, and so the government should most definitely look to pass the laws which would provide this.

 

Overall, the new plan proposed by Mr Osborne offers a promising future for Britain’s survival in cyberspace. Much like with the Cyber Command of the USA, this new cyber agenda presents the footprint for other European governments to follow and perhaps the EU as a whole. Especially when it is the likes of France and others who have been, and potentially will be, subject to terrorism, focusing more resources to assist the development of cybersecurity will prove a smart move amongst other measures to defend against national security threats. Although it will provide more than defence against the likes of IS, but will also be pivotal in a digital environment where security has often been an afterthought. Therefore, it is all so vital that politicians and lawmakers take the dangers of the cyber domain seriously, before it’s too late and suffer from a devastating attack. It may bring about a drastic change in the way we approach technology, perhaps putting its handy conveniences and it's seemingly desirable innovations to one side to concentrate more on how it can be utilised safely and securely. Though there are still some kinks which may need addressing in the UK government's overall cyber plan, like the investigatory powers bill, it remains an admirable effort to face the inescapable actualities of cyber and technology, and, hopefully, it will eventually be enough.

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