Elections and Cyber-security: How political parties are gearing up to face cyber-terrorism

With the General Elections coming up, a number of political parties have expressed their intent to take on cyber-terrorism by implementing massive cyber-security reforms.

We take a look at what each of the political parties are proposing, to tackle major challenges like phishing, security breaches and ransomware attacks.

Not so long ago, Prime Minister Theresa May announced snap General Elections and her Conservative Party is now gearing up for the challenge ahead by promising a slew of reforms, principally in the field of cyber-security. The party has announced a series of commitments which include strengthening cyber-security standards, implementing GDPR and setting up a Data Use and Ethics Commission.

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The 'Prosperity and Security in a Digital Age' section in the Conservative Party manifesto includes implementation of a new data protection law (GDPR) “to ensure the very best standards for the safe, flexible and dynamic use of data and enshrining our global leadership in the ethical and proportionate regulation of data.”

The manifesto also proposes that the Party will “strengthen cyber security standards for government and public services, requiring all public services to follow the most up to date cyber security techniques appropriate” and will invest £1.9bn in cyber-security. The proposed Data Use and Ethics Commission will also advise the parliament as well as government regulators on how to prevent abuse of online data.

The Labour Party woke up to the threat of cyber-terrorism post the ransomware attacks on NHS, as a freshly-added section on cyber-security in their manifesto implies. The party is promising to revamp cyber-security practices to counter emerging cyber threats. "Cyber security will form an integral part of our defence and security strategy and we will introduce a cyber-security charter for companies working with the Ministry of Defence," the Party said.

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The Liberal Democrats have promised to roll back the Investigatory Powers Act which empowers the government to bypass encryption and snoop on citizens' online activities. The party has also promised to end bulk collection of data by government agencies and has stressed that it will uphold data encryption at all costs.

"The security services need to be able to keep people safe, but these powers are straight out of an Orwellian nightmare. They have no place in an open and democratic society, will cost billions of taxpayers' money and simply will not work," said Alistair Carmichael, a Lib Dem MP.

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TechUK, an organisation representing as many as 900 UK businesses, has now released its own manifesto which it says is a list of the industry's recommendations to political parties ahead of the general elections. The manifesto demands a 10 per cent increase in the national cyber-security budget, an end to government backdoors to encrypted data, a resolution to the existing digital skills gap and a provision of £10 million in new funding to help reduce digital exclusion.

"The UK needs to be the safest place for people to go online. Young people must be empowered to navigate the online world safely through a new ‘digital resilience’ curriculum, and a full, evidence-based review into current best practice should be conducted to underpin a comprehensive online safety strategy," the manifesto added.