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December 3, 2012

Foreign states launching cyber attacks against UK utilities

Government wants the nation to become more cyber-savvy to help defeat attacks

By CBR Staff Writer

UK’s water and power supplies are being targeted by foreign states through cyber attacks, the government has admitted.

A government spokesperson, quoted in The Guardian, said companies providing the infrastructure upon which millions of people rely on each day were being targeted by foreign states. The attacks aim to gather information about the systems being used, while the ultimate aim could be to shut down the systems.

"We understand that there is a threat from hostile foreign states and others to attack [national infrastructure]," the spokesperson said. "Of course there are attacks against critical national infrastructure and I am not going to say whether they were or weren’t successful. Clearly, we spend an awful lot of our time helping and advising members to protect the network."

Meanwhile UK Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying that the entire country needs to become more cyber-savvy.

"The internet transforms the risk we face. It is why we have rated attacks from cyberspace one of the top four threats to our national security," Maude said. "We are in a race to build sufficient cyber defences to match the growing volume and dependence of our online economic, security and social interests."

In November 2011, the UK government pledged £650m over four years as part of a new National Cyber Security Programme (NCSP) to strengthen the country’s cyber security.

According to The Guardian, UK government officials have claimed billions of pounds of intellectual property have been stolen from the country’s businesses in 2011, but offered no examples.

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In November this year, UK police arrested a man in connection with a suspected cyberattack on the websites of the country’s Home Secretary Theresa May and her agency.

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