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A national review into cyber security has been launched by the British government in order to assess the degree to which the country is protected from the rising spate of cyber attacks that are taking place across the globe.
The UK review has been announced just days after intelligence agencies in the US published a shocking report which said that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, had ordered an attempt to discredit presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in a bid to support president-elect Donald Trump.
Margaret Beckett, chair of parliament's joint committee on national security strategy, said: "Attention has recently focused on the potential exploitation of the cyber domain by other states and associated actors for political purposes. But this is just one source of threat that the government must address."
Cyber attacks across the world have steadily been rising in recent years, with hackers increasingly targeting firms including major retailers and banks, such as supermarket giant Tesco's banking arm enduring a cyber attack last year which saw £2.5 million stolen from 9,000 current accounts.
Indeed, the number of reported cyber attacks on financial institutions in this country increased from five in 2014 to 75 last year, according to figures released by Britain's Financial Conduct Authority.
The new review will analyse the type of cyber attacks that this country faces, as well as the level of support that is currently in place to prevent such attacks, be that human, technical or financial support. It will also look at the ongoing development of offensive cyber capabilities across the country, as part of the second National Cyber Security Strategy which was started in November of 2016.
The overall security strategy, which is due to run until 2021, has been allotted a budget of £1.9 billion, it was confirmed. This is a sharp rise on the previous cyber security strategy's budget, which covered the five years prior to 2016 and was assigned a total budget of £860 million. The stark rise in funding signals the ongoing importance of a solid cyber security strategy to ward off the increasing number of attacks.
Over the course of 2015, cyber security breaches impacted the majority - 65 per cent of major businesses based across the UK, with communications giant TalkTalk even being levied with a fine of £400,000 for failing to take steps to prevent the intrusive cyber attack on its systems which was carried out in October of 2015.
Across the pond in the US, the Cybersecurity National Action Plan was announced in conjunction with the release of the president's fiscal 2017 budget request in February last year.
The policy builds on 2015's Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan and aims to boost federal IT systems in order to improve agencies' cybersecurity practices. As well as lowering the number of privileged users and stamping out any core vulnerabilities in the systems, it also requires multifactor authentication for access.
Michael Daniel, White House cybersecurity coordinator, said last year: “The cyberthreat continues to outpace our current efforts".
"As we continue to hook more and more of our critical infrastructure up to the internet and as we build out the Internet of Things, cyberthreats only become more frequent and more serious. If we do not begin to address the fundamental cybersecurity challenges we face effectively, we risk cybersecurity and the internet becoming a strategic liability for the US.”