£650m boost to UK's cyber security defence announced
Britain is under "sustained cyber attack" according to a government report that ranks online threats as one of the "highest priority national security risks" in the UK.
The National Security Strategy, A Strong Britain in an Age of Uncertainty report - the government's assessment of the main security threats facing the UK - states that Britain is being targeted by criminals and states online.
The report, published today, said: "Government, the private sector and citizens are under sustained cyber attack today, from both hostile states and criminals.
"They are stealing our intellectual property, sensitive commercial and government information, and even our identities in order to defraud individuals, organisations and the government."
To tackle these online threats, the government today pledged £650m of funding, which will be spent on a "transformative programme" led by the Office of Cyber Security to strengthen key government, critical national infrastructure and defence computer systems against cyber attack.
Although the report does not providing figures for UK cyber attacks, the report refers to "estimates" that cybercrime costs "as much as $1 trillion" of losses and damage globally each year.
It also raises concerns that the London 2012 Olympic Games will be a target for cyber attacks - citing the fact that the Beijing games in 2008 were subject to 12 million cyber attacks per day.
And the threat of malware causing damage to national infrastructure or military equipment is also flagged up, with the report referencing the recently discovered Stuxnet computer worm that was designed to infect and damage industrial control equipment.
The report states that the need to address these threats is more pressing due to the fact that in the last 15 years the number of global web users has risen more than one hundred fold to more than 1.7 billion.
The strategy will inform the decisions taken in tomorrow's Strategic Defence Review, which is expected to recommend that the national defence budget is cut by eight per cent.