Britain cyber security budget doubled, reaches almost £2 billion
Britain has set aside £1.9 billion ($2.32bn) to beef up its cyber security measures over the next five years, two times the spending for the 2011-2016 period.
The British Treasury Department made the announcement in a statement on Tuesday, noting that Finance Minister Philip Hammond would later on outline the new National Cyber Security Strategy.
Under the new plan, London would protect itself against cyber attacks by developing automatic defense lines for businesses and citizens, while reinforcing its cyber workforce to counter the attacks.
The money would also be used to set up a new Cyber Security Research Institute and an Innovation Center in Cheltenham, with the former being tasked with gathering university expertise and the latter with helping cyber start-up companies grow.
The new facilities would be working in tandem with Britain’s National Cyber Security Center which opened last month as part of the GCHQ spying agency and has 700 personnel.
“We must now keep up with the scale and pace of the threats we face. Our new strategy… will allow us to take even greater steps to defend ourselves in cyberspace and to strike back when we are attacked,” the statement quoted Hammond as saying.
The decision was hailed by British Paymaster General Ben Gummer who said Britain was facing a wide range of cyber attackers.
“No longer the stuff of spy thrillers and action movies, cyber-attacks are a reality and they are happening now,” Gummer said.
“Our adversaries are varied – organized criminal groups, ‘hacktivists’, untrained teenagers and foreign states,” he added.
GCHQ Director Robert Hannigan said in June that Britain’s major cities like the capital London were susceptible to hacking.
Hannigan defended the agency’s log-running surveillance of internet activity by British , saying, it had resulted in seven attacks being foiled in the last 18 months.
Andrew Parker, head of the British spy agency MI5, told the Guardian in an interview that Russia was conducting cyber attacks against the UK and “It is MI5’s job to get in the way of that.”