Brown pumps funds into espionage tech

The information security industry will get more funding to develop spying technologies, Gordon Brown has said
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

More government funding will be pumped into security technologies, the prime minister has announced.

Gordon Brown presented the government's National Security Strategy to the House of Commons on Wednesday, outlining plans designed to improve the UK's response to terrorist and criminal threats, among others.

The development of technology used for espionage will also get more funding, Brown said.

"I can confirm that, to meet future security needs, we have set aside funds to modernise our interception capability; that, at GCHQ and in the Secret Intelligence Service, we are developing new technical capabilities to root out terrorism; and that the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure [CPNI], set up last year, will provide a higher level of protection against internet or cyber-based threats," Brown said.

A Home Office spokesperson would not specify to ZDNet.co.uk how much money had been set aside for the development of bugging and tapping technologies. In addition, the spokesperson would not comment on the precise nature of the development of "counter-terrorist technology" announced by Brown.

In his speech, the prime minister also said that CPNI will begin to provide a higher level of protection to UK organisations that oversee essential systems and services, such as telecommunications and the water supply. However, the Home Office said that CPNI would not be taking on a larger role in critical national infrastructure protection, and no new funding was introduced in the prime minister's speech.

The CPNI was set up last year, incorporating the now-defunct National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre (NISCC) and elements of the intelligence services, including MI5. The organisation's role is to provide advice on information security to critical national infrastructure organisations.

In Parliament, Brown also outlined the establishment of a National Security Forum, drawn from the business, education and military sectors.

"To harness a much wider range of expertise and experience from outside government and help us plan for the future, we are inviting business, academics, community organisations, and military and security experts from outside government to join a new National Security Forum that will advise the recently constituted National Security Committee," said Brown.

The National Security Committee, unveiled by Brown on 3 July, comprises cabinet ministers, senior police and military personnel.

It was not made clear whether the National Security Forum would have oversight of government departments, which have been involved in a rash of data breach reports in the past year.

"It will be interesting to see whether the [Forum's] remit extends to address the recent spate of data-breach cases, like the HMRC and NHS data losses, and if it extends to all the various agencies and departments that hold sensitive data," said Michael Small, director of security management strategy at security vendor CA. "The biggest issue this year has been to do with poor internal security policies as opposed to the risks from external attacks."

Editorial standards