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Defence secretary announces £265m funding to boost UK cyber defences

Defence secretary Michael Fallon has promised funding to get rid of “cyber vulnerabilities” in the UK, as he also revealed the government is using “offensive cyber” against Daesh

Defence secretary Michael Fallon has announced a £265m investment in a programme to improve the country’s protection against cyber attacks.

Speaking at the Cyberspace and the transformation of 21st century warfare symposium in Westminster on 20 October 2016, Fallon said that although the UK is a world leader in cyber security, there is still more to be done.

“Today, I can announce we’re investing £265m in a pioneering approach to root out cyber vulnerabilities within our military platforms and wider cyber-dependent systems,” he said.

“The UK is a world leader in cyber security, and we recognise that cyber risk is one of the greatest threats we face in the modern world,” said Fallon. “It is crucial we innovate and stay ahead of this ever-changing danger. By investing in this programme, we’re helping to ensure the UK’s protection.”

The funding is in addition to the £1.9bn the government is investing in cyber security over the course of this parliament.

Fallon added that it could not just be about defence, “it must be about offence too”.

“It is important that our adversaries know there is a price to pay if they use cyber weapons against us, and we are as capable of projecting power in cyber space as elsewhere,” he said.

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In 2015, the government announced it was working to exploit opportunities for using cyber to deliver “military effects”, though the National Offensive Cyber Programme.

Offensive cyber is now being integrated into military planning. When asked by a member of the audience, Fallon confimed cyber is already being used against Daesh.

“I’m not going into operational specifics, but yes, you know we are conducting military operations against Daesh as part of the international coalition, and I can confirm we are using offensive cyber for the first time in this campaign,” he said.

The UK is a world leader in cyber security, and we recognise that cyber risk is one of the greatest threats we face in the modern world
Michael Fallon, defence secretary

Fallon also highlighted the skills gap that currently exists, echoing Armed Forces minister Mike Penning’s call for a different way of recruiting trainees to attract people with cyber security skills.  

The defence secretary also called on Nato allies to work together to address cyber threats, as well as sharing skills and knowledge. 

“An effective response to the dangers of cyber requires all Nato nations to step up,” said Fallon. “We’re only as strong as our weakest link. Britain is doing its bit. We are leaving Europe, but we’re also stepping up our commitment to European and alliance cyber security.”

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