Cyber Threats - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:29 pm on 18th October 2018.

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Photo of Lord Young of Cookham Lord Young of Cookham Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), Lords Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 1:29 pm, 18th October 2018

I take very seriously such a warning coming from the noble Lord. I will share of course his concerns with my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence and get him to write to him.

While it is difficult to avoid headlines about attacks and breaches, doing something about it is still often seen as too technical, too difficult or someone else’s problem. However, one of the themes that has emerged from our debate is that cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility. We consider it vital that all organisations embrace and embed cybersecurity, from the boardroom down. That is why we have targeted efforts at driving long-term change, starting with helping boards to better understand the risks they face and to invest appropriately. This year’s cybersecurity breaches survey revealed that only 30% of businesses have a board member with responsibility for cybersecurity, and that is not good enough. We must ensure that boardrooms provide active leadership to ensure that cybersecurity is ingrained into organisational cultures and mindsets—a point well made by the noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, who also drew attention to the substantial fines that companies are now exposed to under GDPR if they do not comply with the new legislation. As the noble Lord, Lord Fox, highlighted, understanding exactly how secure data and systems are in complex organisations has never been more important.

I am conscious that I am not going to be able to get through all the points that have been raised within the allocated 20 minutes, so I will write to noble Lords to deal with the issues that I have not been able to address today. In conclusion, I hope I have been able to demonstrate not just that we understand the scale of the challenge that we face but that we are seeking to create the environment for everyone to be at their most collaborative and agile to respond, a point well made by the noble Earl, Lord Erroll. As we face new challenges in the year ahead, we need to ensure that we remain focused on reaching across organisational, political and geographical boundaries. As we face those challenges, I will ensure that we take on board the valuable suggestions that noble Lords have made in today’s debate so that we can continue to protect the economic and individual freedoms that make us stronger together.