Ministry of Defence fends off ‘thousands’ of daily cyber attacks

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email [email protected] to buy additional rights.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence is being hit by “hundreds, if not thousands” of serious attempted cyber attacks every day, the officer in charge of defending the armed forces’ computer networks has said.

The British military is a magnet for international espionage attempts, according to Brigadier Alan Hill, head of Operate and Defend at the MoD. Britain’s military systems — which together make up the single-largest computer network in Europe — log more than 1m suspicious incidents every 24 hours.

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email [email protected] to buy additional rights.

“I deal with a lot [of attacks] every day of a varying nature,” said Brig Hill. “What the attackers are after has not changed — it is the complexity of the attacks [that has]. It is evolving almost daily and we have to stay ahead of that game.”

The brigadier, former commander of 11 Signals Brigade and head of information superiority for the army, now runs the defence capabilities of the MoD’s Information Systems and Services — the secretive branch of the military based at Corsham, Wiltshire, charged with protecting military interests in cyber space.

Cyber defence became one of the UK’s top priorities after the 2010 strategic defence and security review but is among the most sensitive areas of government. The military’s cyber capabilities remain highly classified.

Corsham, the home of the military’s Global Operations Security Control Centre, was given a £700m upgrade for its cyber defence centre in 2011. ISS employs hundreds of technicians and soldiers both in Wiltshire and at GCHQ, the government’s electronic eavesdropping agency, in Cheltenham.

“I have a lot of cutting-edge capability,” said Brig Hill, speaking in an interview with the Financial Times on the sidelines of Interop, the flagship event of London Technology Week.

The MoD’s “cutting edge” lies in using big data analytics to sift through the millions of incidents on its network that sensors pick up. “We have to have automated . . . and really slick processes to find the needle in the haystack,” said the brigadier.

“I am corralling this big virtual bucket of stuff which we are then using analytics to run through. You cannot take your eye off the volume because you only need one piece in that noise to [make a] successful [attack].”

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email [email protected] to buy additional rights.

Although other areas of military spending are likely to come under pressure, Brig Hill said he expected “continued investment at scale” in digital warfare and UK defence capabilities in the next strategic defence and security review, expected this year.

The military is having to radically shift its traditional long-term procurement and contracting processes in order to develop its cyber capabilities, however. “More agile procurement is the only way we are going to stay ahead of the game because the tech is changing so fast. We are very sophisticated, but there is no complacency allowed,” said Brig Hill.

“Traditionally, we defined what we wanted and then over 10 years we had it built. That is great for tanks and ships and aircraft but it’s no good in IT.”

Instead, the military is turning to smaller contractors and commercial organisations rather than solely to big defence companies. “Instead of sinking 10-20 years in one supplier and being stuck with old technology, we are looking at much shorter contracts . . . five or seven years.”

The MoD needed to “follow” technology rather than try to “reinvent or create” its own, said Brig. “That is just hugely expensive and unsustainable in the current climate.”

Source: Politics & P0licy

 

 

 

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply