Government Calls on Technologists To Combat Terrorism


Growing cyber-threats results in call for ideas and expertise to help security forces keep pace

The UK government is calling on technology experts and scientists to help identify emerging threats from terrorists who seek to harness new developments in IT and other technologies.

In a brochure released this week, the Home Office said that it wants experts to come forward and contribute ideas to counter-terrorism agencies such as the police, military and security services.

“The UK currently faces a real and serious threat from terrorism and we need to utilise our position as a world leader in science and technology to counter this,” said security minister Lord West. “The UK is a leading innovator in the design and provision of defence and security solutions. British technology can have greater practical applications across the world and is just one more tool in our fight against those who would wish to do us harm.”

The call for ideas coincides with the publication of the government’s three-year Science and Technology Counter Terrorism Strategy this week includes aims such as working with international partners on counter terrorism-related science and technology.

In the report, the government highlighted the growing threat from potential “cyber-threats”. “The UK is increasingly reliant on networked communication, but the very open nature of our digital infrastructure makes it vulnerable to attack,” the report states. “In response to this the Government has recently published the first Cyber Security Strategy for the United Kingdom, which sets out the UK’s strategic cyber security objectives and incorporates a cyber security industrial strategy. In the next three years we continue to expect terrorist groups to favour high-profile ‘conventional’ or ‘unconventional’ operations over cyber attacks, but we must be vigilant against any increase in capability or change in intent.”

Most experts agree that there has never been an actual incident of “cyber-terrorism” recorded as terrorism is usually defined as resulting in loss of life.

The issue of politically-motivated cyber-attacks was highlighted by the recent distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks against Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites which have been linked to the conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008.