UK To Develop 2,000-Strong Offensive Cyber Force


GCHQ has deployed cyber attacks against Islamic State (Picture: PA).

Britain's ability to wage war in cyberspace is getting a massive boost with the creation of a new, 2,000-strong offensive cyberspace force.

The plan by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and spy agency GCHQ is designed to combat terrorist groups and counteract the threat from Russia.

It will be made up of members of the military with specific expertise, officials from GCHQ and private contractors.

A Government spokesman said on Thursday night: "The MoD and GCHQ have a long and proud history of working together, including on the National Offensive Cyber Programme.

"We are both committed to continuing to invest in this area, given the real threats the UK faces from a range of hostile actors."

In July, a parliamentary committee warned that ministers are failing to get to grip with the shortage in cybersecurity experts despite the "potentially severe implications" for national security.

MPs and peers said the situation is of "serious concern", but the Government response lacks "urgency".

In a report, they warned the WannaCry attack in May 2017, which hit the NHS, showed the need to protect critical national infrastructure (CNI) from cyber threats.

But the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy said: "We are struck by the Government's apparent lack of urgency in addressing the cyber security skills gap, which is of vital importance to both national security and the economy."

The committee said the Government and private sector was affected by the shortage in skilled cybersecurity workers.

Developing cybersecurity skills strategy should be the Government's first priority, the committee said.

"It is a pressing matter of national security that it does so." 

In July, a Government spokeswoman said: "We have a £1.9 billion National CyberSecurity Strategy, opened the world-leading National Cyber Security Centre and continue to build on our cyber security knowledge, skills and capability."

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