Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced a boost in funding for cyber defences, as he vowed that the UK will “strike back” if it is targeted by cyber attacks.
Speaking at a Microsoft event in London today, the Chancellor officially launched the government’s new National Cyber Security Strategy.
“Our new strategy, underpinned by £1.9 billion of support over five years and excellent partnerships with industry and academia, will allow us to take even greater steps to defend ourselves in cyber space and to strike back when we are attacked,” Mr Hammond said.
“If we do not have the ability to respond in cyber space to an attack which takes down our power networks, leaving us in darkness, or hits our air traffic control system, grounding our aircraft, we would be left with the impossible choice of turning the other cheek and ignoring the devastating consequences, or resorting to a military response.”
The investment will help specialist police units fighting organised online crime to expand, in addition to training up more cyber security experts.
The money and focus will not solely go towards protecting the government from cyber attacks. Industry in the UK will also receive plenty of attention, in order to help defend businesses from attacks, with Mr Hammond stressing the importance for CEOs to ensure their organisations are protected against cyber attacks.
Cyber criminals such as hackers and scammers will also be targeted by the Strategy, with fears over malware and phishing growing significantly in recent years.
“No longer the stuff of spy thrillers and action movies, cyber attacks are a reality and they are happening now,” said Ben Gummer, the Cabinet Office minister.
“Our adversaries are varied – organised criminal groups, ‘hacktivists’, untrained teenagers and foreign states.”
“The first duty of the government is to keep the nation safe. Any modern state cannot remain secure and prosperous without securing itself in cyber space.”