® Exclusive: Cyber attacks will ‘catastrophically’ spook public, warns GCHQ

Cheltenham spies ‘cyber arms race’

Source: Chris Williams | The Register

A digital attack against the UK causing even minor damage would have a “catastrophic” effect on public confidence in the government, GCHQ has privately warned Whitehall.

The Cheltenham spy agency’s new Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) makes the prediction in a document prepared for Cabinet Office and seen by The Register.

Growing reliance on the internet to deliver public services will “quickly reach a point of no return”, meaning “any interruption of broadband access becomes intolerable and will have serious impacts on the the economy and public well being”, CSOC says.

“A successful cyber attack against public services would have a catastrophic impact on public confidence in the government, even if the actual damage caused by the attack were minimal,” it adds.

The warning forms part of a preliminary “horizon scanning” report produced by the new unit, which is scheduled to begin operations next month. Its job will be to continually monitor internet security, producing intelligence on botnets, denial of service attacks and other digital threats to national security.