Greenock Telegraph 22nd May 2020

During the Coronavirus pandemic we have witnessed many changes to our society and our life habits. The way we live our lives both socially and in the working environment have been transformed. These changes have been necessary to avoid the worst outcome possible but unfortunately could not prevent all infections and subsequent deaths. The National Risk Register 2017 had a pandemic as the number one threat. It was identified as a flu pandemic but never the less many of the consequences had been considered. However, we don’t seem to have been best placed to deal with this pandemic and we didn’t react quickly to the nuances of this virus. The UK Government should have produced a new register in 2019 but as yet has not done so. Our reliance on the internet of things has grown during this crisis. There has been increased use of Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Zoom, Microsoft teams and phone companies are providing special offers for bundles of data. Even Westminster has embraced the use of teleconferencing and extended that to remote electronic voting. So it is worth noting that within the identified risks is a Cyber Attack and the register makes the point that “The scale of our dependence on cyberspace means that our prosperity, key infrastructure, places of work and our homes can all be affected by cyber-attacks.” My concern now is that we are building a greater dependency on a resource which may well be the harbinger of the next crisis. We should be making moves now to anticipate potential vulnerabilities and ensuring that the resilience plans in place are robust and effective before we find our health service, transport systems, retail outlets and supply chains, crippled by a virus of a completely different genre.