Britain has published its National Security Strategy (NSS) which aims to inform thinking and drive policy over coming years.
The document categorises threats faced by the nation in tiers highlighting the level of severity, outlines actions to be taken to mitigate such threats and formed the background to the Strategic Defence Review (SDR).
High in rhetoric but offering little insight in terms of how its goals will be fulfilled against a backdrop of swinging cuts in both the Defence and Home Office budgets, the document does offer an interesting glimpse at what the present government considers are the priority concerns.
First tier threats are identified as acts of international terrorism, hostile attacks on the computer systems which nowadays underpin our critical national infrastructure, a major accident or natural hazard such as a flu pandemic, or an international military crisis between states that draws in this country and its allies.
Many of the issues highlighted in the NSS have been the subject of much debate at Counter Terror Expo in recent years and will almost certainly set direction for debate when the event is held again in April.
“Cyber Security & Electronic Terrorism” has long been considered a strategic threat to national assets.
Assumed state sponsored but carefully focused attacks against computer networks in Latvia and Iran in recent times, have illustrated clearly the impact that can be wrought on largely unprotected computer networks.
“Cyber Security & Electronic Terrorism” assumes a dedicated conference at the forthcoming Counter Terror Expo.
It is important to recognise that additional funding for so called cyber terrorism (which amounts to £500 million) is focused primarily at protecting government and military networks.
Around 80 percent of the national critical infrastructure is in private hands and these private entities are expected to fund security across the board from their own resources.
The “Cyber Security & Electronic Terrorism” conference stream is a timely response to the threat faced.
Counter Terror Expo is the only event of its kind to bring the public and private sectors together annually to debate the challenges faced and develop responses to them.
Publication of the National Security Strategy (NSS) comes hard on the heels of a report issued last week by the influential cross-party Public Administration Committee, which spoke of a chronic lack of strategic thinking in foreign and security policy threatening national interests.
Its report also warned that Britain’s ability to think strategically had been undermined by assumptions that its national interests are best served by its relationship with the United States of America and economic links within the European Union.
“Uncritical acceptance of these assumptions has led to a waning of our interests in, and ability to make, national strategy,” said the Committee.
“It is apparent that others aspects of national security highlighted in the document will not receive a similar funding boost since, as the country tightens its belt, the emphasis from government is on doing more with much less.”
Maintenance of the national defences demands great ingenuity in the years to come on the part of those tasked with its delivery.