Britain digs in for a cyber war

17 Nov 2015

UK beefs up its digital defences with £1.9bn cyber war plan

The UK is to increase cybersecurity spending by £1.9bn by 2020 in response to concerns that IS may develop a capability for cyber warfare, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said at GCHQ.

In his first speech to be given in the home of British intelligence, GCHQ in Cheltenham, Osborne said he is prioritising security in his Spending Review next week.

The move follows the tragic events in Paris at the weekend where more than 120 people lost their lives and a further 100 were critically injured in a series of attacks by terrorists.

As part of the £1.9bn spending increase, more than 1,900 new staff will be taken on across the UK’s three intelligence agencies and the first National Cyber Centre, which will be home to the UK’s first dedicated Cyber Force, will be established.

The new Centre will be based at GCHQ in Cheltenham and will handle cyber incidents in the UK and work with international agencies like the NSA to defend the UK against cyberattacks.

UK beefs up its digital defences with £1.9bn cyber-war plan

Osborne’s plan includes creating a strong Active Defence Programme to divert malware attacks against UK internet users.

The plan also involves creating an Institute of Coding where universities and businesses will compete for a capital prize of £20m.

Osborne also intends to create a new cyber skills programme that involves identifying young people with cyber talent and providing them with after-school mentoring sessions.

This will be bumped up with higher and degree-level cyber apprenticeships aimed at protecting vital sectors like finance and energy.

The UK Government will also create a £165m Defence and Cyber Innovation Fund that will see it buy or invest in cybersecurity start-ups.

A new Cyber Innovation Centre in Cheltenham will house cyber start-ups in their early months.

“As a nation determined to live within our means, we are facing painful choices, and the hardest of decisions,” Osborne said.

“The prime minister, my colleagues at the top of government, and I have decided that we have to make a top priority of cybersecurity if Britain is to be able to defend itself, now and in the future.

“Today I am announcing a plan to do precisely that. It is a bold, comprehensive programme that will give Britain the next generation of cybersecurity, and make Britain one of the safest places to do business online. It will give our companies and our citizens’ confidence that their cyber-safety is being properly protected. It will ensure that Britain remains at the cutting edge of the global cyber economy.

“In the Spending Review, I have made a provision to almost double our investment to protect Britain from cyberattacks and develop our sovereign capabilities in cyberspace, totalling £1.9bn over five years.

“If you add the spending on core cybersecurity capabilities, government protecting our own networks and ensuring safe and secure online services, the government’s total cyber spending will be more than £3.2bn,” Osborne said.

The new National Cyber Security Strategy will be published in 2016.

Britain at war image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years