Dear Prime Minister
This is an FOIA request about the Government’s readiness for the consequences of a major cyber attack, but first a couple of comments to put the request into context.
i. A massive cyber attack by an enemy state is a clearly foreseeable event – whether it is Russia, China, Iran or North Korea. They already engage in cyber attacks on a lesser scale but it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that they have the capacity to launch more serious attacks.
ii. The current Covid pandemic was also foreseeable, not only in real life, but also in popular culture, yet large parts of the western world were unprepared for it and we are paying the price for this with deaths that could have been prevented.
iii. On a lesser scale than Covid, but just as tragically, 72 people died in the Grenfell Tower fire, despite advance warnings by tenants of fire risks. These warnings went unheeded by those responsible for the safety of the block.
With this in mind, these are my questions:
1. Does the Government have a plan for coping with the consequences of a major cyber attack?
Please note that I am not asking for details of how you will get IT systems up and running again after cleansing them of viruses and malware etc., I am talking about the aftermath of a truly apocalyptic attack on major infrastructure such as the electricity distribution system, water distribution, the NHS, mobile phone networks and air traffic control systems etc.
2. To put the question more brutally does the Government have a plan to feed people if there is no electricity, no water and no means of communication?
3. If you do not have such a plan please say so.
4. If you do not have such a plan do you intend to create one?
5. If you do not intend to create one please say why not?
6. If you do have a plan is it accessible to the public?
7. If it is not accessible to the public, why not?
During the Cold War there were plans on how to live in a post-nuclear bomb world so I would hope that there are similar plans for a post cyber attack world. It was also the case that bunkers had been prepared for certain key officials to shelter in.
8. Have any bunkers been prepared for the aftermath and have any key Government officials been designated as meriting a place in the bunker? If so, which ones?
I would be grateful if you responded to this request in a spirit of openness and transparency and not to limit your response to what is technically allowed under the FOIA. The request has not been sent for the purpose of exposing deficiencies in the Government’s emergency response capabilities but out of a genuine desire to learn what the position is, and maybe even prompt the Government to examine their readiness and prepare the right response to such a disaster.
Thank you for your recent email, copied below. Unfortunately, we cannot
accept a request without a full and valid name. Please provide same if you
wish to continue with this request. If we do not hear from you within two
months of the date of this email we will consider the matter closed.
London, SW1A 2AS
Email: [Number 10 request email]
Dear FOI Team Mailbox,
My full name is David Grant
Dear FOI Team Mailbox,
I have not had a response to my request about preparedness in the event of a catastrophic cyber attack. It is now past the statutory deadline for responses.
Dear David Grant,
Thank you for contacting the Cabinet Office.
The Cabinet Office can only respond to matters for which they have policy
responsibility. I understand that the matters which you raise are not
something the Prime Minister's Office is able to assist with.
I would encourage you to send your FOI request directly to the Ministry of
Defence at [email address].
Public Correspondence Team
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