What’s the greatest potential threat to Britain's national security in the early 21st century? Apparently, it's no longer armed conflict with a hostile power—it’s cyberwarfare, according to the first published report, released this week, from Britain’s newly formed National Security Council. Forget the old simplicities of the Cold War era, where state enemies were easy to define: the country now faces a "different and more complex range of threats from myriad sources," the council said. And at the head of the list of dangers is the "Tier One" risk of cyberwarfare.
While the council's conclusion may be worrisome for the public, it's good news for the intelligence agencies—and also perhaps for a cash-strapped government forced to reassess its defense priorities. On the basis of the report, the U.K.'s spooks have been promised an extra $760 million to beef up cyberspace operations. At the moment, Britain's cyberdefenses are in the hands of a 15-person Office of Cyber Security. Even with the support of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the vast agency that collates cyber-intelligence, the country’s resources are woefully inadequate to deal with the growing threat.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister David Cameron assured Parliament that the extra cash "will significantly enhance our ability to detect and defend against cyberattacks and fix shortfalls in the critical cyber-infrastructure on which the whole country now depends."
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