Britain Will Build Up Its Military Cyber Capabilities

Ahead of an imminent national security review the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the country needs to advance its cyber capabilities to ensure that cyber attacks can be effectively dealt with. 

Johnson will present a long-term Integrated Review of national security, defence, development and foreign policy to Parliament this week and the review will commit to 'a new, full spectrum approach to the UK's cyber capability', driving more investment in education, new partnerships with industry, and integration across intelligence and defence services.

"Cyber power is revolutionising the way we live our lives and fight our wars... We need to build up our cyber capability so we can grasp the opportunities it presents while ensuring those who seek to use its powers to attack us and our way of life are thwarted at every turn.” Johnson said.

"In recent years our adversaries have invested in their own capabilities and are constantly finding new ways to exploit our weaknesses and gain advantage in cyberspace," said Johnson. "To cement our competitive edge and keep ahead of our 
The government announced the National Cyber Force (NCF) last November, to counter threats from hostile nations by targeting them digitally. The NCF has been operating since April 2020, with experts from GCHQ, MI6 and the armed forces based in several locations across the country, including GCHQ's headquarters in Cheltenham and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down.

In the last year, GCHQ has partnered with tech start-ups to help them develop and use AI to help train companies ensure more space for passengers during the COVID pandemic, alert haulage companies to stowaways in their containers and prevent the spread of misinformation online. 

Britain  spent £38 billion on defence in 2019, or about 2.1 per cent of GDP. This was more than any other European country, though far below the 3.5 per cent of GDP spent by the USA.

Although little information about the new unit is available, it is believed that it consists of ethical 'white hat hackers' trained to conduct cyber attacks. Their main responsibility is to disrupt the online communications of people or groups whom the government views as terrorists or serious criminals. According to Johnson's Office, the NCF will be permanently based in northern England, as part of the government's efforts to establish a 'cyber corridor' across the region and to drive growth in digital, tech and defence sectors outside London.

The forthcoming Integrated Review is also set to announce a new cyber strategy, to create "a cyber ecosystem fit for the future." Johnson says the new programme will "support" firms that are working to create dual-use and consumer technology. This cyber strategy will be "critical to our ambition to establish the UK as a global services, digital and data hub."

In addition to national security and defence applications, cyber technology can also be used to improve people’s lives through smart technology and helping people use the internet safely. 

The British Government’s new cyber strategy will support companies developing dual-use and consumer technology to ensure the UK is a cyber power in every sense. It will also be critical to our ambition to establish the UK as a global services, digital and data hub.

GovUK:          London News:     Wired:       Computing:      Standard

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