UK Cyber Security Strategy published

Government and private sector to fight cyber crime

The UK has unveiled its Cyber Security Strategy.

The listening post at Cheltenham is to look at commercial applications for encryption techniques and other expertise that is not considered top secret.

The move is part of the government's cyber security strategy, announced today, designed to tackle the "real and growing" threat from criminals, terrorists, and hostile states. The strategy outlines how the Government will take the opportunity to promote growth and minimise the economic impact of cyber attacks by cementing a new partnership with the private sector.

A new national police Cyber Crime Unit will also be created by 2013, and forces are being urged to recruit more special constables with relevant skills - nicknamed 'iPlods'.

The strategy document says GCHQ's "world-class expertise in cyber security" should be used to "benefit economic growth". It will explore working "with private sector partners to explore the potential commercial applications".

A government-sponsored venture capital model could also be set up to help fund innovation in cyber security in small and medium-sized enterprises.

However, the strategy stresses that none of the activities will "compromise the agency's core security and intelligence mission".

Officials are understood to have in mind instances where GCHQ has come up with cutting-edge technology, such as encryption systems, decades before it has emerged commercially.

The organisation has been barred from exploiting its innovations even when they no longer need to be secret.

The Government's National Security Strategy last year classed cyber-security as one of the UK's top defence priorities, alongside terrorism, international military crises and natural disasters.

Concerns have been raised about sophisticated attacks seemingly mounted by states such as China and Russia against key infrastructure.

A new Defence Cyber Operations Group is being set up in the Ministry of Defence to develop "military cyber capabilities" for countering threats.

It is understood it will also consider "proactive" responses, which could include retaliation in kind.

The unit will look at drafting in reservists with specialist knowledge and skills.

The strategy plans to set up cyber security 'hubs' based around certain industries to allow government experts and the private sector to exchange information.

A pilot is due to begin in December for five business sectors - defence, telecoms, finance, pharmaceuticals and energy.

They also want to encourage British businesses to achieve a competitive edge by promoting themselves as "certifiably cyber secure".

The new cyber crime unit within the National Crime Agency will combine the operations of the Metropolitan Police and Serious and Organised Crime Agency.

It will deal with all high level criminality online, as well as taking part in the response to national incidents such as terrorist attacks.

Unveiling the cyber strategy - which has a four-year £650 million budget, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said: "The growth of the internet has transformed our everyday lives. But with greater openness, interconnection and dependency comes greater vulnerability.

"The threat to our national security from cyber attacks is real and growing. Organised criminals, terrorists, hostile states, and 'hacktivists' are all seeking to exploit cyberspace to their own ends."

He added: "The Government cannot do this alone. Closer partnership between the public and private sector is crucial.

"The strategy heralds a new era of unprecedented cooperation between the Government and industry on cyber security, working hand in hand to make the UK one of the most secure places in the world to do business."

Thales UK CEO Victor Chavez said the strategy was another welcome sign that Government was “committed to developing the capabilities necessary to ‘defend the digital realm’”.

“The UK’s national and commercial Cyber capabilities mean we have a clear opportunity to be a leading global player, and we firmly support Government’s view that both public and private sector strengths need to be harnessed to keep the nation’s economy secure and its secrets secret.”

Further information:

Read the UK Cyber Security Strategy.

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