Minister gives evidence on EU cyber-attack inquiry

13 January 2010

The House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on Home Affairs takes evidence at 10.15am from Lord West of Spithead, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Security and Counter-terrorism, Home Office, as its inquiry into EU policy on protecting Europe from large scale cyber-attacks continues

The Committee is looking into the recommendations made by the European Commission in its communication on protecting Europe from large scale cyber-attacks, in which the Commission highlighted many concerns about the adequacy of protective and responsive infrastructure regarding cyber-attacks. The Committee is attempting to ascertain if the recommendations are either realistic or appropriate given current international standards and systems.

The inquiry is focusing on what the proper roles are for the EU and its Member States in terms of enhancing governance, ensuring a strong EU wide incidence response capability, and bridging gaps in national policies for security of critical systems. The importance of the issue is heightened by the fact that many of the critical systems involved are no longer operated by public bodies but privately.

The issue is of relevance due to cyber-attacks in recent years on Estonia and Georgia and because of international concern about the risk of large scale cyber-attacks. Cyber-attacks are growing in sophistication and frequency, and it is important that subsequent risks are understood and sufficiently analysed.

In particular, the Committee is investigating:

  • How vulnerable is the Internet to wide-spread technical failures?
  • Is the Internet industry doing enough to ensure the resilience and stability of the Internet or is regulatory intervention unavoidable?
  • Is the EU Commission’s concern about cyber-attacks justified and should the military be more involved in protecting the internet?
  • Are Government operated Computer Emergency Response Teams an appropriate mechanism for dealing with Internet incidents?
  • Is it sensible to develop European-centric approaches to response infrastructure or should there be more emphasis on a worldwide approach?

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