A more serious threat than a nuclear attack: that’s how the head of an influential parliamentary group of British lawmakers has described the war raging today...online. The comments by Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee come as the group warns that the UK is losing the international cyber war. It says that from online fraud to state-sponsored cyber-espionage, the UK is struggling to cope.
In the first report of its kind, the committee found that low level crime is falling in to an unreported black-hole. The UK is the number one target for gangs in 25 countries, the government response is fractured, and police are not trained to deal with sophisticated nature of many of the attacks. Experts believe cyber attackers are often outpacing authorities.
Despite cyber warfare being on the up, the budget tackling it is actually being slashed. City of London Police have said that up to a quarter of the UK’S 800 specialist internet crime officers could be lost due to budget cuts. Another major and disturbing trend-online child abuse and pornography-has been in the headlines the last week as British Prime Minister David Cameron announced new measures to curb online porn.
But, at the same time the police department that tackles online child exploitation is set to have a 10% budget cut.
The events of the last few months have made it clear how cyber space is a new battleground. Whether it is governments spying on their own citizens, or each other. Online pornography or financial crime. But, while experts maintain all this must be tackled, they are also warning against it being used as an excuse for governments to further control the world wide web.
What happens online, whether fraud or sophisticated attacks by other governments, cyber warfare does not recognise national borders and can be committed anywhere, at any time. That’s what makes it unique and what makes it so hard to control. But that’s also what makes it important and why countries like the UK want to fight it affectively. Something they are currently failing to do.