In the UK a major increase in resources towards combating the threat posed by internet attacks will be on the agenda in next week's strategic defence and security review, the government's cyber tsar hinted today.
Neil Thompson, director of the Office for Cyber Security, spoke of a "step change" in the government's approach to the threat. He added cyber attacks were "cheap, quick, and deniable".
He was addressing a Royal United Services Institute conference on the future of the ''critical national infrastructure'' – utilities including gas, water and the National Grid a day following Iain Lobban, director of GCHQ, the government's eavesdropping and encoding centre, warned that Britain's infrastructure faced ''real and credible'' threat of cyber attack.
In a first-of-its-kind public speech that was published today, Lobban said, "Just because I, as a national security official, am giving a speech about cyber, I don't want you to take away the impression that it is solely a national security or defence issue. It goes to the heart of our economic well-being and national interest."
He said that there had been "significant disruption" to government computers by internet worms, that had been specifically directed and as well as others that were picked up accidentally. "Cyberspace lowers the bar for entry to the espionage game, both for states and for criminal actors," he told the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
Former senior British intelligence officer and now IISS director said the problem with cyber attacks was the "complete absence of strategic notice". He said that when they happened "you don't know who's doing it".