The Ministry of Defence is to recruit ‘cyber experts' as part of its commitment to fight cyber crime.
In the National Security Strategy report, published last year, cyber crime was highlighted as one of the four key areas for national security and the MoD has now confirmed that the ‘cyber' soldiers will be put on a similar footing to conventional troops.
The MoD said in a statement: “Our forces depend on computer networks, both in the UK and in operations around the world. But our adversaries present an advance and rapidly developing threat to these networks.
“Future conflict will see cyber operations conducted in parallel with more conventional actions the sea, land and air operations.”
Ash Patel, country manager for UK and Ireland at Stonesoft, said: "This is a positive move from the government and it is a necessary step, particularly as cyber criminals are becoming ever more sophisticated in their attack methods. Cyber crime is more advanced than ever before and in a world where almost everything is controlled by computers it is definitely not something that can be ignored.
“However, the fact that the government is beefing up its cyber offensives, rather than defences, gives the impression that we are entering a state of cyber warfare which personally I think is quite misleading.
“The government's plans are certainly not new and this is something which has been discussed since last year. I would recommend that they work with Europe and European vendors to help counter the threat of cyber crime as this is something the European Cybercrime Convention has been actively working on since 2004.”
David Harley, senior research fellow at ESET, said: “It's positive that the government is giving consideration to cyber warfare issues. While the arena remains undefined, with the borders between cyber warfare, cyber espionage, cyber terrorism and out-and-out cyber crime decidedly blurry in places, it's not too soon to grow a defensive and offensive infrastructure.
“In fact, this is not really a new item on the agenda, whatever the politicians may say. The security services and the security community at large have been aware of such problems as targeted malware and spear phishing backed by nation states for many years, and the community has long warned about the risks to the Critical National Infrastructure, which includes a far wider range of organisation than the public might realise.
“I do have concerns, though. Security and intelligence are difficult and wide-ranging areas and sooner or later, political expediency will mean that mistakes will be made. Necessary measures will be dropped or skimped on because of economic pressures, inappropriate and/or inadequate measures will attract funding because it's a way for elected officials to be seen to be doing something.”