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UK cyber efforts 'should concentrate on defence'

Warwick Ashford

The UK government should focus its cyber efforts on resilience and defence rather than attack, an expert panel has told the House of Commons science and technology Committee.

The committee was hearing evidence on cyber attacks as part of its inquiry into scientific advice and evidence in emergencies.

The problem with cyber attacks is that it is often difficult to know who is carrying them out, and even if the attacker can be identified, it takes too long to enable retaliation, said Peter Sommer, visiting professor, London School of Economics. "Therefore, cyber efforts need to focus on resilience of networks," he said.

There also needs to be contingency planning to deal with all the potential knock-on effects of cyber attack, said Sommer.

"Contingency planning is far more important than exotic cyber command centres as are being set up the US," he said.

Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering, University of Cambridge, said it was a worldwide problem that cyber security programmes tend to be biased towards attack rather than defence.

But, he said, government involvement was necessary. "Cyber crime is not well understood and is completely globalised. Therefore it needs national and super national effort to fight against it."


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