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National Security: Electromagnetic Fields

Volume 506: debated on Wednesday 3 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what recent assessment has been made on the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to an electromagnetic pulse caused (a) deliberately and (b) through solar activity; (319896)

(2) what recent assessment he has made of the feasibility of strengthening civilian systems against electromagnetic pulse attacks; and what estimate he has made of the cost of undertaking such work.

The Government’s Cyber Security Strategy of the United Kingdom, published alongside and reflected in the National Security Strategy update of June 2009, considers a number of methods of cyber attack, including those that generate high levels of power that can damage or disrupt unprotected electronics. It also outlines the new governance structures and workstreams which are now building on existing work to take forward the Government’s plan for reducing the impact on and vulnerability of the UK’s interests from cyber attacks.

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) provides advice on electronic or cyber protective security measures to the businesses and organisations that comprise the UK’s critical national infrastructure, including public utilities, companies and banks. CPNI also runs a CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) service which responds to reported attacks on private sector networks. In addition, CESG provides Government departments with advice and guidance on how to protect against, detect and mitigate various types of cyber attack.

It would not be in the interests of national security to provide information about specific vulnerabilities, assessments or protective measures relating to electromagnetic pulse attack.