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Chancellor Philip Hammond has urged the UK to be prepared to 'retaliate in kind' to any cyber attacks that come its way.
Mr Hammond confirmed that 'foreign actors' were making use of new techniques that were beginning to prove to be a threat to the UK's electrical grid, communications apparatus and airports. He made mention of these renewed cyber threats while making a speech spelling out exactly how the Government planned to spend the £1.9 billion it has set aside to tackle cyber security issues.
Other issues discussed in the speech, which detailed the National Cyber Security Strategy, were ways in which businesses could be defended from the growing threat of cyber attacks and how to tackle cyber scammers.
Mr Hammond said: "If we do not have the ability to respond in cyberspace to an attack which takes down our power network - leaving us in darkness or hits our air traffic control system grounding our planes - we would be left with the impossible choice of turning the other cheek, ignoring the devastating consequences, or resorting to a military response.
"That is a choice we do not want to face and a choice we do not want to leave as a legacy to our successors," he said.
Mr Hammond confirmed that the National Crime Agency would receive much of the funding in order to boost its work tackling anti-cybercrime work. The stamping out of organised online gangs will also be tackled through the implementation of enlarged specialist police units, it was announced. Some of the funding will also go to the training and further education of cybersecurity experts across the country.
Mr Hammond went on to say: "If we want Britain to be the best place in the world to be a tech business then it is also crucial that Britain is a safe place to do the digital business. Trust in the internet and the infrastructure on which it relies is fundamental to our economic future."
The speech by the Chancellor came hot on the heels of a warning from MI5 that increasing cyber threats were coming out of Russia. According to the domestic security agency's director general, Andrew Parker, the country was making use of a "whole range of state organs and powers to push its foreign policy abroad in increasingly aggressive ways - involving propaganda, espionage, subversion and cyber-attacks."
Thus far, Russia has denied the allegations that it has been upping its cyber crime, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying: "Until someone produces proof, we will consider those statements unfounded and groundless."
Future cyber security spending plans include the recruitment of more than 50 specialists who will be based at the cybercrime unit at the National Crime Agency and will focus on stamping out hi-tech crime. The plan also includes the creation of a dedicated Cyber Security Research Institute, which will work to co-ordinate research into efforts to boost cyber security for devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets.
The Cyber Defence Capability Assessment Tool (CDCAT) provides a comprehensive tool for organisations to assess their cyber defences and identify any vulnerabilities they may have. As the frequency of attacks increase, the tool is an essential method to mitigate any threats cybercriminals pose.