A cyber attack targeting UK defence companies was exposed by the security information sharing system set up by the government, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude revealed in a speech today.
"We recently pioneered a joint public/private sector cyber security ‘hub’ with five business sectors – defence, telecoms, finance, pharmaceuticals and energy to allow us and the private sector to exchange actionable information on cyber threats and manage the response to cyber attacks," Maude said during a visit to Estonia.
"The benefits of this are already emerging," he said. "In one case, our intelligence agency GCHQ learn[ed] of a significant campaign of malicious emails targeting UK defence companies which they duly alerted that community."
"Our aim is to increase the scale of this engagement, jointly with industry, moving to full operational capability later this year, whilst expanding to include other organisations," he said. "Ultimately we want to see industry taking the lead on this important initiative so it’s led by industry, for industry."
Maude reiterated the objectives of the government’s cyber strategy in his speech: to make the UK one of most secure places in the world to business in cyberspace; to make the UK as a whole more resilient to cyber attack; to build the UK’s cyber security knowledge; and to "help shape an open, vibrant and stable cyberspace which the public can use safely and supports open societies".
He said that the UK had set up a dedicated unit to guard the London Olympics against cyber attack. "The Beijing Olympics saw 12 million cyber security incidents during their Olympics. We are determined to have a safe and secure games."
To promote greater awareness of Internet security issues, Maude revealed, the goverment will invest a further £400,000 in its Get Safe Online Campaign. BT, Symantec and Camelot have signed up as sponsor for the campaign.
Maude also said that last year’s London Conference on Cyberspace, where the US and its allies called for "norms of behaviour" for nation states regarding the Internet, initiated a conversation that has "caught the attention of a wealth of nations, including China and Russia".
Before the conference took place, China and Russia proposed their own international code of conduct for cyberspace, which called on state government’s to "cooperate in … curbing dissemination of information which incites terrorism, secessionism, extremism or undermines other countries’ political, economic and social stability, as well as their spiritual and cultural environment.”