As the 2015 General Election on the 7th of May creeps ever closer, and each party vies for tactical position and an ever bigger slice of the electorate, Templar Executives takes a look into the potential political ramifications within cyberspace. Information Communication Technology (ICT) runs as a common enabling thread through all aspects of government and policy at every level, underpinning effective operations, communications and implementation.
Some of the most hotly contested political topics both have, and are subject to, cyber security implications. As a prime example the Liberal Democrats want to drive a digital revolution across the NHS, creating a paperless organisation and allowing patients to arrange appointments and repeat prescriptions online. This will put an additional swathe of sensitive and exploitable data into the cyber domain. Executed carefully, ICT systems and processes, will enable tremendous efficiencies for the long term but it will be key to ensure best management practice Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) and a supportive culture are established to protect the individual and to build confidence in the wider system.
Cybercrime spans international borders, attacks made against UK households and organisations may well originate from our neighbours in Europe and the identity of perpetrators are often well concealed. A Labour government would champion a joined up Europe to help tackle terrorism, support the European Arrest Warrant and safeguard our national interests. The Conservatives promise an EU referendum, but would leaving Europe put in jeopardy our capability of sharing cyber intelligence and bringing overseas cyber criminals to justice?
Closer to home, the Liberal Democrats would pass a Digital Bill of Rights to protect the individual from online intrusion and to help control personal data, whilst the Conservatives will introduce new laws enabling the Police to gather information on the internet activity of suspected criminals. Neither of these policies are necessarily opposed, but both raise important issues that affect us all, and it is perhaps heartening that they form key elements of the political debate.
An area which sees the greatest alignment in policy is education and the delivery of a future facing and skilled workforce to support growth at home and abroad. With the Conservatives tackling the basics by seeking to stamp out illiteracy and innumeracy, through to Labour driving apprenticeships, the SNP pursuing the rapid expansion of broadband across Scotland and UKIP dropping tuition fees for less-privileged students studying technical degrees.
It seems that a culture shift toward a more connected and cyber aware future for the UK is at the heart of each political party policy and this is welcome news – provided that each is delivered with a responsible and thorough approach to cyber and information security. As public services continue to move online we must also ensure that no group is excluded and that, for example, the over fifty five age group is given the support they need to continue to access these services safely, securely and confidently. Perhaps the party that offers this support will secure a key segment of the electorate in May.