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31 May 2011, 16:54

UK to step up cyber defence capabilities

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Government sources have revealed to the Guardian that work has started on developing a range of cyber weapons; this new range will be offensive in nature, to complement the country's existing defensive capabilities. The project is believed to be being driven by the Cabinet Office and the Cyber Security Operations Centre at GCHQ. A defence cyber-operations group was recently set up under the command of the Parachute Regiment's General Jonathan Shaw.

The issue of cyber security was highlighted in the most recent Strategic Defence and Security Review in October 2010. The armed forces minister, Nick Harvey, told the newspaper that the extent to which UK infrastructure in the form of transport, power and communications depended on digital networks, "brought the capacity for warfare to cyberspace". The minister was quoted as saying that "it would be foolish to assume the west can always dictate the pace and direction of cyber-technology."

With Harvey considering that cyber weapons are now "an integral part of the country's armoury", the focus on defence was highlighted by an article on the BBC web site stating that the Ministry of Defence is to recruit hundreds of cyber experts to improve the country's defensive capabilities. The report quoted an MoD statement as saying: "Future conflict will see cyber operations conducted in parallel with more conventional actions". The MoD said that its networks receive approximately 20,000 malicious emails each month, 1,000 of which specifically target the MoD.

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