MPs and peers launch cyber security probe in wake of US-Russia election hack row

Posted On: 
9th January 2017

MPs and peers will investigate how vulnerable Britain is to cyber-attacks amid a row over whether Russian hackers influenced the US presidential election. ​

Dame Margaret Beckett said the "national security implications of the leap to cyber are a matter of increasing concern"
Credit: 
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The Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy this morning announced it would assess the implications for the UK from advances in the “digital revolution”.

Parliamentarians on the committee, chaired by Labour’s Dame Margaret Beckett, will also consider how the UK can help work with its allies to help in the fight against cyber attacks.

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It comes amid claims by US intelligence agencies that Russian hackers helped Donald Trump to win the US presidential election.

Ciaran Martin, chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre, has warned that the suspected Russian hack could inspire a similar attack in the UK.

Dame Margaret said ministers should consider the wider threats posed by recent technological developments, alongside the "potential exploitation" of the cyber domain by other states.

“The internet has changed our daily lives almost beyond recognition from the way we communicate, to the way we trade and the way Government provides services to citizens," she said.

“However, while the digital revolution has opened up a whole host of opportunities, it has also created new vulnerabilities. The national security implications of the leap to cyber are a matter of increasing concern.

“Attention has recently focused on the potential exploitation of the cyber domain by other states and associated actors for political purposes, but this is just one source of threat that the Government must address through its recently launched five-year strategy.”

SECURITY STRATEGY

The 2015 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review identified cyber threats and wider technological developments as some of the major security challenges facing the UK.

A budget of £1.9bn was allotted by ministers for the second National Cyber Security Strategy launched in November 2016 to address challenges relating to cyber security.

MPs and peers on the joint committee will look at the types and sources of cyber threats faced by the UK, Britain’s preparedness for the challenges posed and how ministers can work with the private sector to build skills and resilience.

They will also consider: 

* The effectiveness and coherence of the strategic lead provided by the National Security Council, Departments, agencies, and the National Cyber Security Centre;

* Learning points drawn from the first Cyber Security Strategy and the fitness for purpose of the second Cyber Security Strategy;

* The development of offensive cyber capabilities and the norms governing their use; 

* The balance of responsibilities between the Government and private sector in protecting critical national infrastructure;

* The appropriate role for Government in regulating and legislating in relation to cyber both nationally and internationally; 

* How the UK can co-operate with allies and partners on the development of capabilities, standard setting and intelligence sharing.