Lords: UK internet would survive cyberwar

A new report from the House of Lords claims the UK internet would likely survive a cyberattack on the country.

Lords: UK internet would survive cyberwar

The report examined the electronic defences of European nations, in the wake of the high-profile cyberattacks that crippled Estonia’s internet network in 2007.

The Lords claim the UK network is well equipped to survive both a targeted attack and natural disasters. “We are conscious that cyberattacks, or natural or man-made disasters, can cause acute disruption to the internet in the short term,” the report claimed.

It is highly unlikely that the UK could be ‘cut off’ from the internet by remote electronic attack or technical failure

“However we believe that the United Kingdom is reasonably well placed to cope with such disruptions. We note that it is thought to be a leader among Member States, with developed practices that set benchmarks for others to adopt.”

The UK has a number of computer emergency response teams (CERTs) that are on hand to deal with attacks on the infrastructure. The Government told the Lords in evidence that “it is highly unlikely that the UK could be ‘cut off’ from the internet by remote electronic attack or technical failure.”

The report also reveals that major companies have satellite connections on standby in case of emergencies. “In my bank… we will have satellite connections that are wholly separate from the ground connections until they get to the building so if someone takes a JCB and drives through it, fine, we have a satellite connection and it will work,” Chris Gibson, the chief finance officer of First, the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams.

However, the Lords are concerned that localised incidents could cause major disruption to internet networks. “A failure of the Thames Barrier would flood the London Docklands and have a major impact on the internet, the report claimed.

“But the point repeatedly made to us was that the internet itself would be able to withstand attacks robustly, and better than any traditional alternative means of communication.”

The Lords urge Ofcom to consider the possible impact of incidents such as the failure of the Thames Barrier.

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