UK gov finally unveils its new National Cyber Force

The NCF will combine the expertise of GCHQ, MoD, MI6, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory

The UK government has revealed details on its new National Cyber Force (NCF), a defence body which will aim to ensure the safety and cyber security of the nation.

The NCF will combine the expertise of personnel from GCHQ, the MoD, MI6, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, unifying them under one command. Although separate from the business security-focused NCSC, the two bodies will work together to enhance the UK’s cyber power.

Although in operation since April of this year, the NCF was only formally unveiled during the prime minister’s speech on Thursday.

The news of a new cyber defence body comes days after the government announced an additional £16.5 billion in defence spending.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace described the NCF as “a joint Defence and GCHQ capability” which will provide the UK with “a world class ability to conduct cyber operations”.

The NCF’s responsibilities heavily resemble the duties of the GCHQ and include preventing terrorist attacks by taking control of their mobile phone communications, fighting online fraud and sexual child abuse, as well as protecting UK military aircraft from being attacked by hostile weapon systems.

GCHQ director Jeremy Fleming said that the NCF “brings together intelligence and defence capabilities to transform the UK’s ability to contest adversaries in cyber space, to protect the country, its people and our way of life”.

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“Working in close partnership with law enforcement and international partners, the National Cyber Force operates in a legal, ethical and proportionate way to help defend the nation and counter the full range of national security threats,” he added.

The announcement of the NCF is a likely response to the growing number of state-backed cyber attacks, said to be largely sponsored by countries such as North Korea and Russia. Only this week, the two states were found to be assisting groups such as Strontium, Zinc, and Cerium in targeting pharmaceutical companies researching treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.

The discovery, which was made by Microsoft, comes months after a joint-advisory by the NCSC and US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warning that state-backed hacking groups were targeting organisations critical to the COVID-19 response in the UK, US, and across the world.

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