Industry call for tougher sentences following attacks on critical fibre infrastructure

Innovative fibre network providers – Ogi and Vorboss – are leading an industry call for tougher sentencing laws, following a spate of attacks on critical internet infrastructure across the UK.

A series of severe, targeted attacks on full fibre networks – from rural Wales to the City of London – has cut off homes, businesses and public services, including hospitals. Attacks have been reported recently in Pembrokeshire, Liverpool, Sheffield and London.

In a letter to Michelle Donelan, the Secretary of State for the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), the fibre industry is calling for a wide-ranging review of the security of the UK’s physical networks. Specifically, the industry requests:

– Attacks on critical digital infrastructure to carry tougher sentences and fines to act as a deterrent. The severity of the penalties should reflect the potential risks to life and the critical role that full fibre plays in keeping our communities connected and safe.

– Direction from Government to ensure police forces prioritise engagement with attacks on critical digital infrastructure, in line with their impact on communities and the economy.

– Strict enforcement of essential security compliance protocols by industry, specifically ensuring all network builders adhere to Openreach ‘whereabouts’ compliance.

The letter is signed by leading industry chiefs representing investors, network builders and internet service providers.

Calling on the UK and devolved governments to do more, Ben Allwright, Ogi’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Working with the UK and devolved governments now means we can make sure this infrastructure – feeding our homes, businesses and critical public services – is backed by laws that are fit for purpose; deterring those who aim to sabotage the connectivity we increasingly lean on for our working, social, and day-to-day lives.

“Now is the time for us to get around the table to make sure this vital infrastructure has the protection it needs.”

Responsibility for digital infrastructure sits within the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) – led by Secretary of State Michelle Donelan – and Ofcom, the telecom industry regulator.

Vorboss CEO Tim Creswick, said: “Change is needed to protect the country’s digital infrastructure. We’ve raised these concerns after a series of attacks on telecoms networks. Resilience of digital connectivity should be a critical priority, and DSIT and Ofcom have the responsibility to affect these important changes. A review of current rules is desperately needed, from sentencing to policing to enforcing industry compliance.”

The letter has been shared with DSIT and Ofcom leadership teams – including Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, Julia Lopez MP, and CEO Dame Melanie Dawes – devolved governments and their officials, business leaders and local authorities. Ogi and Vorboss are leading the charge, calling on DSIT and Ofcom to conduct a review of security of fibre infrastructure across the UK.

Max Walker

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