A cyber attack on the infrastructure of the UK is a serious prospect in the next few years with the government calling for increased security measures and greater awareness of the threats.
In a speech delivered at Chatham House the armed forces minister Nick Harvey spelt out the risks posed by cyber warfare on the UK.
"The consequences of a well planned, well executed attacks against our critical networks could be catastrophic," he said.
"The fact that cyber security has been identified as one of the top national security threats for the UK over the next five years indicatres both the likelihood of such an attack and the level of impact," he added.
Harvey said that those wishing to harm the UK and steal important data would look to exploit digital networks as a route of attack because it offered a chance to wreak havoc without the need for direct confrontation.
"Our adversaries can exploit the same technology used by citizens going about their daily business," he said.
One quote about the potential danger is one likely to be used much by the industry with Harvey raising the hairs on the back of the neck warning: "A single networked laptop in the hands of a sophisticated and informed attacker could be as effective a weapon as, say, a cruise missile."
One of the areas of spending that the government indicated would be increased in the future rather than cut was cyber security and with reports from the industry, the latest yesterday from Websense, indicating more sophisticated nation-state attacks are coming next year the pressure is increasing to defend the country.