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Cyber views

A majority of Brits (63 per cent) feel the UK is likely to be attacked by a state-sponsored cyber attack in the next ten years. However, over a third (33.7 per cent) believes the country is unlikely to order a cyber attack on another nation over the same period. In comparison, their US counterparts fear cyber warfare is imminent with 59 per cent believing that the States will attack or be attacked in the next decade.

That is according to research from Tenable Network Security, Inc.

A national divide also becomes apparent when looking at how respondents feel about the respective countries’ vulnerabilities to attacks. Most Americans (93 per cent) believe that US businesses are at least somewhat vulnerable to state-sponsored attacks, whereas only 44 per cent of UK consumers feel the same. The UK is also less concerned about the vulnerability of its government compared to the US, with 63 per cent of Brits fearing the government is at least somewhat, to very, vulnerable to cyber attacks in contrast to a stunning 95 per cent of Americans.

The countries did agree however that they would support the government in having the same level of authority to react to cyber attacks as they have to respond to physical attacks on the country (UK: 70 per cent, US: 94 per cent).

Ron Gula, a former cyber security man at the NSA and now CEO and CTO of Tenable Network Security says: “This heightened awareness of cyber warfare is not at all surprising amid the surge of media attention around state-sponsored attacks over the last six months, for example the bank and TV cyber attacks in South Korea and the reported hacking of private networks from China. However, it is worth considering that any organisation which chooses to look at its security logs can see attacks from the likes of North Korea, along with Russia and China. They can also see attacks from the UK, the US and Israel and, if they wanted to, can find attacks from IP addresses geographically located within 10 miles of Downing Street, the NSA, or the Kremlin. Because these types of attacks are so pervasive, any time a real-world physical escalation occurs, such as North Korea threatening to launch a nuclear attack, these normally ignored network attacks get undue significance and hit the headlines.”

UK respondents expressed conflicting sentiments about whether the public or private sector should shoulder responsibility for protecting corporate networks. Under half (44 per cent) of respondents believe businesses should be held responsible for cyber breaches when they occur. However a large amount (61 per cent) say the government should be responsible for protecting UK businesses from cyber attacks. The US also found similar inconsistencies of opinion with 66 per cent believing businesses should be liable, and an almost equal amount (62 per cent) thinking the government should be responsible.

“I think these rather conflicting results on who should be held accountable reveal both countries want both the public and private sector to work closely together on cyber security,” Gula said. “It is great to see the UK government has already started to work towards this aim with the launch of the Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP), offering a platform for businesses and the government to exchange information on threats and vulnerabilities.”

Also from the UK:

• Over half of Brits (57 per cent) believe public utilities are vulnerable to state-sponsored cyber attacks
• If the UK were to undergo a cyber attack, Brits are most concerned about disruption to utilities – such as water, electric and gas (51 per cent)
o More people are concerned about disruption to communication infrastructure, i.e. phone and Internet, (43 per cent) than they are about disruption to transportation infrastructure, i.e. planes, trains and public transportation (18 per cent)
o 41 per cent percent are concerned about disruption to financial services.


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