Government to allocate £500m for cyber-defence

Over half a billion pounds will go to cyber-defence and improving the computer security of the critical national infrastructure, the government has announced
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

The government is to spend over £500m to boost critical national infrastructure and improve cyber-defence, prime minister David Cameron told parliament on Tuesday.

"We need to focus more resources... on the unconventional threats of the future," said Cameron, who was speaking at the launch of the government's five-year defence spending plan, the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).

Cameron said that the funding would boost cyber-defence capabilities and fix "shortfalls" in the critical national infrastructure, while the government would formulate a national cybersecurity programme.

Cybersecurity efforts will be realigned across central government, the military and intelligence agencies, a Cabinet Office spokesperson told ZDNet UK on Tuesday. In addition, critical national infrastructure such as electrical utilities would receive government attention.

At present, cyber-defence efforts are co-ordinated by the Office of Cyber Security, a central government agency. The Cyber Security Operations Centre, based at Cheltenham, analyses and responds to attacks on UK infrastructure. It is linked to GCHQ, which recently warned that government systems are under persistent cyberattack.

"The Office of Cyber Security has done a good job, while the Cyber Security Operations Centre has been very successful," said the Cabinet Office spokesman.

"The bigger picture is that... the critical national infrastructure needs the best defence. Defence, GCHQ, cybersecurity and government will all have a share of how [cyber-defence] is operated," he added.

At present, the Office of Cyber Security is overseen by the Cabinet Office, but has input from security experts from the military and intelligence agencies. Under the government plans, the Ministry of Defence will provide more expertise, said the spokesperson.

"It will be a combination of the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ," said the spokesman. "Clearly we need to reach out [more] to the Ministry of Defence — they are leaders in protecting systems."

On Monday the government announced its National Security Strategy, which ranked cyberattacks among the 'Tier One' threats facing the UK, alongside terrorism and military crises.

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