UK government planning "Cyber Territorial Army"

News 3 Dec, 2012

IT reservists needed to combat threat of foreign hackers.

The government is to set up a "Cyber Reserve" unit to deal with IT security threats posed by foreign countries.

The new unit will be established next year and run by the Ministry of Defence. The unit will allow the armed forces to "draw on the wider talent and skills of the nation in the cyber field", according to a parliamentary statement by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.

"We are constantly examining new ways to harness and attract the talents of the cyber security specialists that are needed for critical areas of work," said Maude.

We are in a race to build sufficient cyber defences to match the growing volume and dependence of our online economic, security and social interests

The exact composition of the new unit is currently in development and a detailed announcement will follow in 2013. The MoD has already established a military Joint Cyber Unit based at GCHQ.

Maude will also outline details of a new £650 million cyber security programme tasked with protecting UK national interests as well as selling cyber defence skills abroad.

The National Cyber Security Programme, which prioritises and coordinates work across government, will have four key objectives: to tackle cyber crime, to be more resilient to cyber attacks, to shape an open, stable cyberspace that supports open societies and have the "cross-cutting knowledge, skills and capabilities the UK needs to underpin these other objectives".

"There exist real and growing threats to our interests in cyberspace: these threats have increased concurrently with the growth of the 'internet economy'," said Maude.

"We are in a race to build sufficient cyber defences to match the growing volume and dependence of our online economic, security and social interests."

"It's a race we can only win by working together: Government, industry, academia and the public This is as much a shared responsibility as a shared effort," he said.

The moves come as government official said that hostile foreign states and other bodies had been "mapping out" computer systems in the UK controlling critical national infrastructure.