A warning from the head of the UK's electronic spying agency that the UK faces a "real and credible" threat of cyber attack has been echoed by Home Office security minister Baroness Neville-Jones.
In a highly unusual public speech, GCHQ director Iain Lobban said on Tuesday that Britain's future economic prosperity depended on developing effective defences against a cyber assault.
Mr Lobban told the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) that the massive growth of the internet had opened up new vulnerabilities, with opportunities for attack by both hostile states and criminals.
He disclosed there were more than 20,000 "malicious" emails on Government networks each month, of which 1,000 were deliberately targeted, while intellectual property theft was taking place on a "massive scale" - some relating to national security. "Cyberspace is contested every day, every hour, every minute, every second," he said.
Lady Neville-Jones, a former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, described cyberspace on Thursday night as "a new national frontier".
She endorsed Mr Lobban's view that 80% of the UK's vulnerabilities could be dealt with by increasing good practice, by keeping systems up to date and ensuring they remained "as invulnerable as possible".
"They also obviously depend on the human element," she said in response to a Lords debate on protecting Europe against large-scale cyber attacks.
Lady Neville-Jones stressed the need for the Government to set an example to the private sector, "increasing the emphasis inside Government and preaching the message of 'information assurance' nationally as being a contribution that we need".
The Tory minister also saw a need to "upskill" the population, in collaboration with the academic community.
She said, ahead of Tuesday's Strategic Defence and Security Review, that cyber was "key to our military capabilities on the battlefield, it's key to our Navy - if the whole shooting match has lost its communications, it's dead in the water". She told peers: "We need to be able to disrupt them, not them disrupt us."