Philip Hammond to spend extra £1.9bn fighting cyber-attacks

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Outdated computer systems are allowing malicious hackers to target everyone from companies at board level to individuals in their living rooms, according to the chancellor, who is promising to strike back against cyber-attacks.

Philip Hammond will use a speech on Tuesday to unveil a £1.9bn package designed to boost Britain’s defences against a growing online threat, which he will say is invading personal privacy and putting national security at risk.

Speaking before the launch, Hammond said Britain must “keep up with the scale and pace of the threats we face” and insisted that the new funding will “allow us to take even greater steps to defend ourselves in cyberspace and to strike back when we are attacked”.

The money – which almost doubles the amount set out for a similar strategy in 2011 – will be used to improve automated defences to safeguard citizens and businesses, support the cybersecurity industry and deter attacks from criminals and “hostile actors”.

Hammond will say the steps are needed because the cost of crimes in cyberspace globally is $445bn (£365bn), and will argue that society is becoming more vulnerable because of the way in which devices connect.

The government also fears that “old legacy IT systems used by many organisations in the UK” are increasingly susceptible to hackers who find them easier to crack.

Hammond will promise government support but insist that chief executives have a duty to ensure their companies are secure.

How did hackers use everyday devices to launch a cyber attack?

The Cabinet Office minister, Ben Gummer, said: “No longer the stuff of spy thrillers and action movies, cyber-attacks are a reality and they are happening now. Our adversaries are varied – organised criminal groups, ‘hacktivists’, untrained teenagers and foreign states.

“The first duty of the government is to keep the nation safe. Any modern state cannot remain secure and prosperous without securing itself in cyberspace. That is why we are taking the decisive action needed to protect our country, our economy and our citizens.”

The money for the new national cybersecurity strategy will be used to focus on defence, including protecting critical infrastructure such as energy and transport.

It is intended that websites impersonating government departments will be shut down much more quickly, and efforts will be made to crack down on spoof email accounts used in fraud cases.

The second plank of the policy will be to target those who persistently attack Britain, with a promise to deploy more than 50 specialist cybercrime investigators, currently being recruited.

There will also be more funding to improve the security of smartphones, tablets and laptops.

The reforms include a new cyber-innovation centre in Cheltenham.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Anushka Asthana Political editor, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 1st November 2016 01.11 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010