cyber security

Dedicated UK cyber force to combat Russian online threat

The UK is set to bolster its cyber-warfare capabilities with the creation of a new offensive cyber force composed of up to 2,000 personnel.

The unit will reportedly combat terrorist groups, domestic gangs and the spread of fake news designed to influence British politics from foreign states such as Russia.

According to The Times, the new cyber body will be composed of GCHQ officials, military personnel and contractors and looks set to receive more than £250m in government funding. According to Sky News, a second source said that this figure would likely be even higher.

A Government spokesman said on Thursday night: “The MoD and GCHQ have a long and proud history of working together, including on the National Offensive Cyber Programme.

“We are both committed to continuing to invest in this area, given the real threats the UK faces from a range of hostile actors.”

In July, a parliamentary committee warned that ministers are failing to get to grip with the shortage in cyber security experts despite the “potentially severe implications” for national security.

MPs and peers said the situation is of “serious concern”, but the Government response lacks “urgency”.

In a report, they warned the WannaCry attack in May 2017, which hit the NHS, showed the need to protect critical national infrastructure (CNI) from cyber threats.

The Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy said: “We are struck by the government’s apparent lack of urgency in addressing the cyber-security skills gap, which is of vital importance to both national security and the economy.”

The committee said the government and private sector was affected by the shortage in skilled cyber-security workers. Developing a cyber-security skills strategy should be the government’s first priority, the committee said.

“It is a pressing matter of national security that it does so,” it added.

In July, a government spokeswoman said: “We have a £1.9bn National Cyber Security Strategy, opened the world-leading National Cyber Security Centre and continue to build on our cyber-security knowledge, skills and capability.”

Earlier this year, scripts were found on government websites that hijacked visitor’s CPU’s to mine cryptocurrency. 

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