The Cabinet Office announces the launch of a new Cyber Defence reserve force

It perhaps shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that the Cabinet Office chose Mega Monday to announce the launch of a new Cyber Defence reserve force to deal with the growing threat of computer crime. Run by the Ministry of Defence, it will allow the armed forces to ‘draw on the wider talent and skills of the nation in the cyber field.’

The security of the critical national infrastructure (CNI) and business interests are increasingly being threatened by cyber criminals. Terrorists, fraudsters, rogue states and individual activists are among the criminals targeting computer systems in the UK. Mega Monday, or Manic Monday as it has also been termed, proved to be the UK’s busiest shopping day of the year, with £200,000 being spent online every minute as shoppers rushed to get their Christmas bargains. Internet-related business is currently estimated to be worth £82 billion a year to the UK. Minister Francis Maude said help was needed with “critical” work in combating online crime. The scheme’s full details will eventually be unveiled early next year.

In a written statement Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude, said 93 percent of large corporations and 76 percent of small businesses had reported a cyber-breach in the past year alone. He vowed that every effort would be made to make the UK ‘one of the most secure places in the world to do business in cyber space’ as he gave a first year update on the UK’s Cyber Security Strategy. He also confirmed that the coalition government was looking to ‘move towards the establishment of a UK National CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team)’, to act as a ‘focus point for international sharing of technical information,’ adding:

“Working with the private sector to improve awareness of the need for better cyber security continues to be a priority. We are now focusing our efforts on making sure that the right incentives and structures are in place to change behaviour in a sustainable way. Government departments and agencies are working with professional and representative bodies to ensure the consideration of cyber security becomes an integral part of corporate governance and risk-management processes.”

The government has also determined that it will train more students with “cutting-edge” skills to tackling online crime. A degree course module on the subject is currently being piloted at De Montfort University, the University of Worcester and Queens University Belfast to this end.

Mr Maude added: “We are constantly examining new ways to harness and attract the talents of the cyber security specialists that are needed for critical areas of work. To this end, the MoD is taking forward the development of a ‘Cyber Reserve’, allowing the services to draw on the wider talent and skills of the nation in the cyber field. The exact composition is currently in development and a detailed announcement will follow in 2013.”