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WikiLeaks Spurs MoD To Step Up Cyber Defences

The Ministry of Defence has allocated funds to improving its defences against cyber attacks and information leaks following the WikiLeaks debacle

The Ministry of Defence has strengthened its cyber-defences in response to WikiLeaks’ release of confidential cables, the ensuing denial-of-service attacks launched by WikiLeaks supporters and a recent attack on an Iranian nuclear processing plant by the Stuxnet worm.

The measures were revealed by Armed forces minister Nick Harvey in response to MPs’ questions in the Commons.

Security concerns

Conservative MP Robert Halfon asked what recent steps the MoD has taken to reduce the risk of attacks such as the Stuxnet attack.

Meanwhile, Conservative MP James Morris described the WikiLeaks incident as a critical attack on national infrastructure, and said such attacks are “only likely to grow”.

Morris urged the involvement of private firms in preventing future such incidents. “We must involve the private sector in ensuring that we can be ahead of the game when it comes to our cyber security,” he said.

Harvey said that cyber defence is a “high priority” and that the MoD has allocated £650 million to improving cyber protections.

“There are technical and procedural measures in place to protect MoD systems from cyber attack and to ensure we can mitigate the impact of those attacks,” Harvey said.

He declined to comment on the detail of those measures, but said defences are tested regularly by intruders.

“The threat is of course changing in extent and complexity, which requires continual improvements in our security measures and novel approaches to dealing with the more sophisticated threats,” Harvey said.

He said the MoD intends to work closely with private firms on cyber defence.

DDos attacks

The MoD is “committed to working closely with the private sector in defence not only of our own systems but of systems across government”, he said.

WikiLeaks’ editor-in-chief Julian Assange was released from custody last week, following a court hearing’s decision to disregard an appeal, believed to have been filed by the Swedish authorities.

Over the past few weeks, Anonymous Operation has been named as the loosely organised gang behind DDoS attacks on MasterCard, Visa, PayPal and other organisations perceived as being anti-WikiLeaks. The group has also threatened the UK with reprisal attacks if Assange is extradited – as it did with the Swedish government for pressing to have him arrested.