UK government boosts military cyber-spying powers with £800m investment

UK government boosts military cyber-spying powers with £800m investment

UK prime minister David Cameron has announced a £800m investment to improve the nation’s cyber intelligence, reconnaissance and defence capabilities.

Cameron announced the investment during a speech at the Farnborough International Airshow on Monday and in an article in The Telegraph, claiming it is an essential step in the government’s ongoing efforts to protect the UK’s digital economy.

“Having modern, technologically advanced and flexible armed forces to protect us and our interests is vital. Because of the difficult decisions we have taken to tackle the deficit we are able to make these vital investments in our defence capabilities,” said Cameron.

“That is what we are investing in today. The majority of the money – £800m – is being spent on intelligence and surveillance equipment. It includes the latest in cyber defence technology and surveillance aircraft that can fly over areas like the Horn of Africa, identifying any terror threats to the UK and our allies.”

The investment is part of the UK government’s wider £1.1bn armed forces budget.

A government source told V3 the investment will specifically work to improve the armed forces’ Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities and will work to improve departments’ defensive capabilities both at home and overseas.

“Cyber investment is a priority for the MOD. The Armed Forces need effective information and communications technology wherever they operate – at home and overseas. MOD needs to invest in cyber defence to protect against the evolving threat from cyber space, as set out in the 2011 UK Cyber Security Strategy,” said the source.

The UK government has launched and invested in numerous initiatives and technologies, both offensive and defensive, since it launched the Cyber Security Strategy.

These have included education programmes, such as the launch of new cyber security higher education centres at Oxford University and Royal Holloway University, and the creation of the Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP) in 2013.

Files leaked by controversial whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that UK intelligence agencies have also developed cyber offensive capabilities designed to help them detect and monitor the activities of “dangerous groups”. Most recently the files proved that the GCHQ used the technologies to attack hackers related to the Anonymous collective.

Cameron said the government will also continue to work to increase the size of the UK’s cyber defence industry. “We are also taking action to sustain our thriving defence industry, as part of our long-term economic plan to back business, create jobs and secure a brighter future for hard-working people,” he said.

Growing the UK’s cyber defence exports is a staple part of the government’s economic growth plans. GCHQ said in June that it will share cyber threat intelligence and “select” intellectual property with industry in a bid to aid the government’s growth plans.

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