Lord Waverley: We must work together on cybersecurity – or the consequences will be fatal

Posted On: 
17th October 2018

The UK cannot address cyber threats on its own. A global, solutions-based approach is required to tackle the scale and complexity of the challenge we face, writes Lord Waverley

cyber security Ciaran Martin, head of the National Cyber Security Centre at the launch of the centre's second annual review in London. Ciaran Martin, head of the National Cyber Security Centre, at the launch of the centre's second annual review in London this week
Credit: 
PA

Recent events have demonstrated that cyber threats pose a challenge unlike any other. Cyber has transformed the world in which we live, from the use of capabilities in battlespace operations in military warfare, to cybercrime, state-sponsored hacktivism of foreign critical national infrastructure, and ransomware attacks on digital currency.

With over three billion active users, the Internet has enabled growth and development on an unprecedented scale. An isolationist, compliance-based approach to regulation will lose the race against cyber threats. This Thursday’s debate in the House of Lords is an opportunity to draw awareness to the scale and complexity of cyber threats facing the United Kingdom and beyond.

Governments are tasked with staying ahead of unrelenting cyber threats. Those threats come in different forms, but the approaches taken in defeating threats remains static. The entire social infrastructure of how we communicate and live our lives has changed radically and permanently, hence the mechanisms by which we monitor, detect, protect against and repel cyber infiltrations should be reconsidered.

There needs to be a recognition that government, on its own, cannot succeed in tackling cyber threats. The private sector needs to play a more pivotal role in the future of cyber governance, to include matching efforts by both large and small businesses stepping up their resilience.

This includes businesses being able to act more rapidly and effectively in the sharing and use of internationally sourced intelligence. To comprehend a solution to cybersecurity, parliamentarians must be prepared to leave the parameters of domestic politics.

A formidable challenge is our approach to dealing with global cyber governance amidst conflicting visions and approaches by individual nation states.

Failure in developing a global, solutions-based approach will prove to be fatal in the years ahead. Governments must come together through existing international institutions such as the United Nations and NATO, to formulate an approach that treats cybersecurity in a sphere of its own.

The United Kingdom does not have the necessary funding to address fully cyber security. We must act in partnership, using our influence as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to marshal international resolve on this matter.

The United Kingdom has established itself as a leader in the use of outcome-based regulation to tackle these challenges. The take-up and implementation of GDPR and the NIS Directive are examples.

The scale and complexity continues to grow however, and it is necessary for parliamentarians to be diligent in our resolve to address this fundamental issue of our time.

The upcoming debate will contribute to a cyber marathon that we must endure for the sake of national security.   

The Viscount Waverley is a crossbench peer. Peers will debate cyber threats facing the UK on Thursday 18th October