Britain faces an increased threat from terrorism, cyber attack and small-scale wars, a National Security Strategy will say.
By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent
Published: 7:00AM BST 18 Oct 2010
The document will also highlight the threat from cyber attacks on government infrastructure Photo: CLARE KENDALL
The security and intelligence services and counter-terrorism police are to escape major cuts in this week’s public spending review due to the threats.
The strategy is a key precursor for the Strategic Defence and Security Review, to be published tomorrow, which will explain how Britain will defend itself against such attacks.
It will also form the basis for spending decisions to be announced this week, including a £500 million boost to cyber defence, sources told The Daily Telegraph.
“The security strategy will look at the issues we are going to face in coming years and the spending review will look at how to deliver that,” one source said. The security strategy is expected to outline four key threats to Britain.
The primary threat remains al-Qaeda in Pakistan and its associates in Somalia, Yemen and North Africa, who continue to plan attacks against targets in Britain, the security strategy will say.
That is likely to mean that MI5, MI6, GCHQ and the Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism command will escape the worst of the cuts. But the document will also highlight the threat from cyber attacks on government infrastructure.
While not naming individual states, GCHQ, which is responsible for cyber defence, has been concerned for some time that states such as China and Russia are unlikely to use conventional or nuclear weapons in an attack on Britain and are more likely to attempt to shut down essential systems used to run the country.
Similar attacks have been seen when Russia has been in disputes with Estonia and Georgia, leading to problems with their internet and even cash machines.
A third risk that will be highlighted is the threat of small-scale wars in foreign countries that may escalate out of control, drawing in neighbouring countries and creating havens for terrorists.
That threat is likely to have a major bearing on the defence review tomorrow, which is likely to emphasise the need for mobile forces involving a combination of aircraft carriers and special forces.
The fourth element will be the risk from natural disasters such as pandemic flu, where strategies have been developed over recent years.
Iain Lobban, the head of GCHQ, said in a speech last week that the Government was receiving 20,000 malicious emails a month, of which 1,000 were deliberate attacks.