UK to set up new cyber unit to help defend national security news
30 September 2013

The UK plans to set up a new cyber unit to help defend national security, the defence secretary has announced.

The UK ministry of defence would recruit hundreds of reservists as computer experts to work alongside regular forces to set up a Joint Cyber Reserve Unit.

If necessary, the new unit would also launch strikes in cyber space according to Philip Hammond, secretary of state for defence.

Recruitment for reservists who would join the unit would get underway next month.

The unit would be assigned the work of protecting computer networks and safeguarding vital data.

According to Hammond who spoke at the Conservative Party conference, the threat was real.

"Last year, our cyber defences blocked around 400,000 advanced, malicious cyber threats to the government secure intranet alone," he said.

The ministry of defence (MoD) said in a statement that the "creation of the "Joint Cyber Unit (Reserve) would allow it to draw on individuals' talent, skills and expertise gained from their civilian experience to meet these threats".

According to Hammond who spoke to the Mail on Sunday, clinical "cyber strikes" could disable enemy communications, nuclear and chemical weapons, planes, ships and other hardware.

He said people thought military was land, sea and air but the ministry had recognised a fourth domain space and now there was the fifth - cyber.

He said this was the new frontier of defence. He added for years, the ministry had been building a defensive capability to protect itself against these cyber attacks, but that was no longer enough.

He told the conference the government intended to recruit hundreds of experts in the coming months from a variety of backgrounds, including civilian computer experts, to join what he called a new Joint Cyber Reserve.

Hammond did not put a figure to the cost of the recruitment program, but the outlay would be expected to run to hundreds of millions of pounds.

In July, a group of lawmakers said the UK was losing the battle against cyber crime, adding online criminals across 25 countries had chosen the UK as their number one target.

Government documents had made references to foreign states seeking to conduct espionage with the aim of spying on or compromising the UK government, military, industrial and economic assets as also monitoring opponents of their regime.

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UK to set up new cyber unit to help defend national security