David Stewart’s cyber-attack question

28 September 2017

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart today asked the Scottish Government what assessment was being made of the risks that it and its agencies face from cyber-attack.

 “Western Governments and beyond are facing a digital Battle of Britain. A series of brute force attacks, sometimes State sponsored, have compromised hospitals, schools and critical infrastructure like water and power,” he said at General Questions in the Scottish Parliament.

 “Will the Cabinet Secretary host an urgent meeting with the National Cyber Security Centre to review the Scottish Government’s cyber security strategy?”

In August the Scottish Parliament suffered a ‘brute force cyber-attack’. The attack followed a sustained assault on computers at Westminster in June.

Today, Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, said he had met with the Chief Executive of the National Cyber Security Centre on September 5 and had a “very constructive discussion” about the work necessary to ensure all possible, practical and tangible steps were taken to ensure the Government and public agencies were protected.

He said the Scottish Government will shortly publish a new Cyber Strategy and he realised the “seriousness and significance” of the issue Mr Stewart raised. Also, that discussions would be continuing with the National Cyber Security Centre.

Afterwards Mr Stewart added: “People may ask, ‘how does this affect me?’

“But, these sorts of cyber-attacks could strike locally, affecting, for example, our own hospitals, such as Raigmore in Inverness, local schools and energy power plants.

“We are facing digital war here and we need to make sure our security barriers are as high as possible.

“We cannot get complacent because these brute force attacks could strike out national infrastructure, with schools losing power, hospitals losing power during key operations and disruptions to our water supply.”