BRITAIN must be braced for a cyber attack aimed at crippling its military, industry and energy supplies during times of crisis, according to the former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.
Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones delivered a stark warning about the scale of the threat from cyber criminals when she spoke in Yorkshire last night.
The Baroness, who was delivering the annual public lecture at The Grammar School at Leeds, said the command and control structures of Britain’s armed forces must be secured from “penetration and interference”.
The Baroness, who is a former pupil at the school, said the UK must expect an electronic attack during times of political tension.
She said: “The Russians attacked the electronically run government services of Estonia over a trade disagreement; they disabled some of the capability of the Georgian armed forces when they invaded South Ossetia and I expect they will be doing the same to the Ukrainian armed forces as I speak.
“On this basis, attack is not limited to targets of military significance permitted under international law.
“We must expect that an adversary will try to disable important industries or our utilities: think of the distraction to Government – and the damage to the economy – that would be caused at a time of international crisis by a chunk of the electricity grid going down.”
The Baroness, who was David Cameron’s national security adviser when he was in opposition, said the current government had created a multi-pronged cyber security strategy backed by £860m of “new money” over the lifetime of the Parliament.
According to Gchq’s director, 80 per cent of all attacks could be foiled by simple and affordable security measures, she added.
A career diplomat, the Baroness served as a BBC Governor from 1998 to 2004.
Beware constant threat of cyber crime: Page 13.