In the 2015 General Election my fellow candidates and I were asked at a few hustings about the renewal of Trident, and the ways the UK should defend itself.
I know that our armed forces do an amazing job, and that they are vital to our nation’s security. However, I find that there is a gap in the wall protecting us, and it could be the Achilles heel which, if exploited, may have dire consequences.
I argued that cyber protection is something that this Government just doesn’t take seriously enough, and that we have a Tory led coalition more interested in teaching Latin than Java.
I suspected that this wasn’t taken too seriously because it’s a new concept for many. I highlighted the attack in November 2014 of Sony. In this attack Sony Pictures were blackmailed into not releasing a film about Kim Jong-Un, the leader of North Korea. North Korea carried out a targeted cyber attack on Sony, and the US Government was not able to do anything to protect them. I said then, and repeat now, what protection would our services have if something similar happened here?
Now, unfortunately, we have had that gap exploited with a dire impact upon our NHS. The recent ransomeware attack on several NHS Trusts has delayed operations, sent A&E departments into chaos and wreaked havoc in our already overstretched hospitals. The response from the Government has been to blame the Trusts, and to say that they should have updated their systems and digital security. I find this a complete dereliction of responsibility. If I was attacked in the street, I would expect that the police would try to help me, and not say, ‘Well, we did recommend that you had protection’. I also find it ironic that Trusts are being criticised for not investing in their computer systems when they are struggling just to get through each day.
This Government has cut hospital funding back to the bone. We must wake up to the reality of the situation we are in before we are attacked again.
Labour takes this seriously. We will invest in our NHS and public services so that they are able to be properly protected from vicious attacks. We will also work with the international community, in particular the EU and the US, to find collective solutions to bridge the gap in our defensive wall. What we won’t do is negate responsibly and blame the victims of this crime.
Dan Greef is the Labour parliamentary candidate for South Cambridgeshire