Ministry of Defence cyber chief: UK needs to emulate Estonia

ministry of defence logo Just got back from Cyber Security 2011, another information security event in central London with an impressive list of speakers ranging from former home secretaries David Blunkett and John Reid to Europol assistant director Troels Oerting and the government deputy CIO, Bill McCluggage.

Standout for me, however, was major general Jonathan Shaw, head of the defence cyber operations group at the MoD, who certainly didn’t pull his punches in sharing his judgement on the UK’s cyber security posture.

“It’s a bit like the 80s when everyone knew about AIDS but were shagging without condoms anyway,” he told the attendees.

Fair point, if a little bluntly put. As was his remark that the UK is behind Estonia in terms of cyber readiness. We need to move from being a country in “pre attack mode” to one, like the Baltic state, in “post attack mode”, where security is taken far more seriously by all citizens, he argued.

It’s surely only a matter of time before a massive cyber incident hits these shores, knocking out key national infrastructure, but will that be enough to focus minds on the importance of “cyber hygiene”, as Shaw called it?

I’m not so sure. It’ll certainly take more than a Get Safe Online campaign to do it, although if Shaw’s estimate that 80 per cent of threats could be nullified by such measures is true, it is certainly an end goal we need to try and achieve.


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