Thursday, October 21, 2010


The government recently announced a £500m funding boost for 'cyber defence'. My reaction was immediately cynical... the only significant 'cyberwar' threat we've seen to date was the recent Stuxnet virus (which was designed to attack industrial control software, and seemed to focus its efforts in Iran more than anywhere else, hence is suspected of being a deliberate attack of sorts). This one incident doesn't seem enough to justify a massive investment in boosting our defences against this mostly hypothetical attack vector, especially at a time when the country's finances are not in the best of shape.

Of course, if you are the cynical type, you can think of other motives for throwing funding into monitoring and control of the Internet... and lo and behold, in today's Comprehensive Spending Review (specifically, in the Strategic Defence and Security Review,) we find that the coalition has revived the all-but-shelved Intercept Modernisation Programme.

As Alex Deane from Big Brother Watch points out, this is a complete U-turn on this government's promises to 'reverse the rise of the surveillance state'.

I fully expect to read a statement from a government minister soon, explaining that the IMP is necessary to enable us to 'defend ourselves against cyber-warfare'. The threat of cyber-warfare will be added to paedophilia and terrorism as 'unarguable' excuses to be trotted out whenever the government needs to justify its latest intrusion into our personal lives, the latest violation of our right to privacy, the latest reversal of its promises to reinstate and defend our civil liberties.