The Prime Minister addressed industry and stakeholders at the IPPR from computing.co.uk
Technology in security – a double edged sword
The Prime Minister addressed industry and stakeholders at the IPPR this week with a speech on balancing security and liberty. His focus on the need for modern, interoperable solutions to constantly changing modern threats was warmly welcomed by industry. Intellect’s members believe that whilst globalisation and the proliferation of information, communications and digital technology have been a boon for the UK, they have also created new dependencies and vulnerabilities which must be addressed.
Instantaneous communications and information technologies underpin our economy’s ability to generate wealth in sectors like financial services, and make possible the sharing of inconceivable amounts of information on almost any subject via the internet. Once again, however, this progress comes at a cost – that of a minority who use it for subversion, radicalisation and to commit crime. The globalised nature of contemporary organised crime and terrorism is a grisly monument to the all-pervasive nature of our industry’s capabilities.
Nor has technology’s impact been merely to extend the reach of existing threats – it has also created whole new arenas for conflict. Cyber warfare is a relatively new phenomena in its modern form, made possible by the widespread adoption of high speed internet infrastructure. Critical national skeletons of power, water and healthcare utilities are increasingly reliant on massive networks of ICT, which are now susceptible to cyber attack – whether from shady terrorist groups or more traditional state foes.
Computing readers will recall the widespread power failure that hit New York and dozens of other major cities in Eastern US States in 2003. A leading American policy journal recently suggested that the outages originated in overenthusiastic hacking by Chinese Government agents. UK policymakers are alive to these new theatres of war – the Ministry of Defence is to dedicate increased time and resources to the combat of cyber warfare . The picture, as Gordon Brown pointed out, isn’t all doom and gloom. Technology has created and influenced threats to national security, but it also makes fighting and resolving them more effective and more efficient. Criminal detection at all levels has benefited from the use of CCTV and DNA technology, and the ability to follow criminals’ electronic and digital trail as easily as Poirot followed footprints by the conservatory. Early warning systems for natural disasters and improved communication systems for response coordination mean that in the face of natural disaster, responders are better linked and better informed than ever before. Technology has changed our economy, altered our civil society and as we are now seeing is changing our security. The UK isn’t alone in recognising it – this week the French publicised a long awaited strategic review of Defence & Security , whose themes of international interdependence and the prioritisation of information and intelligence are encouragingly familiar to those who’ve been following this debate in the UK. Western security strategies are starting to agree on common challenges, and industry will play a major role in helping to implement the sort of flexible, coordinated and cohesive responses needed to face them.
By Joel Grundy, Defence and Security Programme Manager