UK MPs have questioned the country’s potential to defend itself against possible cyber attacks.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee said in a report published today that “ministers had taken too long to consolidate the ‘alphabet soup’ of agencies tasked with stopping attacks”.

According to the report, threat from cyber attacks has been one of the UK’s top four risks to national security since 2010.

In order to combat this, the paper notes the Cabinet Office should develop a detailed plan for the National Cyber Security Centre (NSCS) by the end of this financial year: setting out who it will support; what assistance it will provide; and how it will communicate with organisations needing its assistance.

The report goes on to note how as of April last year, there were at least 12 separate teams or organisations in the centre of government tasked with safeguarding information, although many of these have now been amalgamated by the Cabinet Office.

Additionally, the report says the government should look to establish a clear approach for protecting information across the whole of the public sector and delivery partners and clearly communicate how its policy and guidance documents can be of most use to all incumbents.

David Ferbrache, technical director in KPMG’s cybersecurity practice, commented on the Public Accounts Committee report.

He said: “The Public Accounts Committee report highlights the long overdue rationalisation of cyber security roles and functions across Government.

“The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) plays a vital role in defending the UK against State sponsored cyber-attacks, the militarisation of cyber space and an increasingly sophisticated organised cyber-crime threat.

“The NCSC has made good progress in developing and implementing its cyber security strategy, but there is clearly a long way to go. There can be a natural tendency for governments to cloak discussions around security in secrecy but when it comes to cyber security, the best response is a community response that involves industry. The NCSC must be agile, flexible and unconventional – and it can only achieve that by drawing on talent from the community as a whole,” Ferbrache concluded.

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