Monday, October 18, 2010

White Hall White Wash, NSC Brief

I have not read the entire 38 page report from the National Security Council nor do I intend to. However I have read parts of it and it's enough to make me sick. To me it's a document simply aimed as ever with the Tories at justifying defence cuts. Basically the document priorities every kind of threat that is cheap to deal with and pushes the real serious threat's down to what it calls tier 3 level.


Tier 1 - Hostile attacks on UK cyberspace

Tier 3 - Disruption of oil or gas supplies to the UK


I am not stupid, I do realise that threats to Cyberspace are important but can we really justify putting the UK's Oil and Gas Supplies in the same league let alone two tiers lower.

If Cyberspace was attacked and the Internet completely destroyer the UK would return to a state like it was before 1998 (When we had a decent defence budget). If our Oil and Gas supplies were completely disrupted we would return to a state as we were before 1850. Victorian technology trying to feed 60 million people on a small island would likley not work out so well.

Maybe I am being a bit harsh. Maybe the government is looking at the likeliness of an attack assuming that Cyber Terrorism Attacks are easier to do than disrupting oil supplies. Below I have put examples of the top of my head in the 20th and 21st century where people have attempted to disrupt our energy supplies as well as times when major cyber attacks have taken place.

Threats to Oil and Gas Supplies

Suez Crisis 1956
Six Day War 1967
Yom Kippur War 1973
OPEC Crisis 1973
Iran Iraq War 1980's
1991 Gulf War
Russia on multiple occasions in the past 10 years
Russian Georgian War 2008

Major Cyber Attacks from States or Terrorists


So actually attacks on our energy supplies are far more likley than threats from the phone line. The type of worst case scenario Cyber Attacks shown in movies like Die Hard 4 have been frequently shown to be fantasy (Science Fiction). Most very sensitive technology such as military C4, Stock market computers and Power grids are not on the Internet. For a terrorist to upload a virus they would have to physically be in the building. If it was as easy as it's made out then it would be happening all the time.

Indeed cyber attacks are happening all the time and have been since the Internet was started. Companies and governments as well as consumers spend billions a year on protecting themselves. Internet Security Companies spend allot of money on many of the most talented people in the business. Do we really think a £500 million cash injection into the MOD or the Police can match this. Are soldiers or police men the type of people who we really need to be looking at this kind of thing. Would they be able of even understanding such a field as virus's logic bombs etc.

Let's be clear, the real reason for putting something like Cyber Terrorism as a tier 1 threat and disruption of oil and gas as tier 3 is that cyber terrorism along with all terrorism is cheap to deal with. You don't need multi million dollar missles or multi billion dollar aircraft carrier just a couple of guys sitting in an office scratching there arses staring at a computer screen.

This government is a joke. We can criticise the last government all we want but atleast SDR 1998 was a serious attempt at a review. This is just a cuts program dressed up in some attempts and deluding people that the world is a safe place, wars no longer happen and all we need to worry about are some Jihadists trying to kill us through the phone line. If SDSR is a cuts program then just say that. Tell us we need to cut back on military expenditure to pay for the NHS. Don't try to delude yourselves (because you are not deluding us) that you have taken any kind of serious look at what kinds of threats we will face in the future or that you have a scooby what to do about them.

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