UK to spend £22m to boost cyber-offensive capabilities

The new facilities will work with existing Army capabilities and will have regular contact with other national security organisations

The UK government has sanctioned £22 million to beef up its cyber-security operations in the country, with plans to invest in a series of specialist operations centres. The announcement comes days after the European Union members, including the UK, launched a new regime that imposes EU sanctions on cyber-security attackers.

Defence Ssecretary Penny Mordaunt announced the plan at the NATO Cyber Defence Pledge Conference in London. "Cyber can bring down our national infrastructure and undermine our democracy," she said.

"We need coherent cyber-offence as well as defence. So today I can announce we will be investing £22 million to create new cyber-operations centres."

The new sanctions regime adopted by the EU a week ago allows the imposition of travel bans and asset freezes on those who carry out "cyber-attacks with a significant effect".

Mordaunt said the democratic process of fair elections was particularly at risk, pointing out instances of Russian players in the presidential election in Ukraine and in the United States. "The leaders and ministers of NATO countries have been raised up by the decisions of millions of voters, expressed through the ballot box. We can all be cast down in the same way," he said.

The new centres will work with existing Army capabilities, such as the psychological operations unit 77 Brigade but will also have regular contact with joint and other national  security organisations, according to the government announcement.

"Combining artificial intelligence with our military analysts will help us better understand threats and exploit opportunities, in turn enabling us to get the truth out much more rapidly, quashing the noise of disinformation from our enemies," said Major General Tom Copinger-Symes.

Meanwhile, the 77 Brigade itself continues to face acute shortage of skilled staff, The Register reported, citing government data released under the Freedom of Information Act.  

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