UK Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt has announced £22 million in funding for a new British Army cyber operations centre.
Speaking at the NATO Cyber Defence Pledge Conference in London this week, Mordaunt underlined the need for the UK and NATO members to recognise that offensive cyber operations are becoming increasingly central to modern warfare.
“We all know about the dangers,” she said. “Whether the attacks come from Russia, China or North Korea. Whether they come from hacktivists, criminals or extremists. Whether it’s malware or fake news. Cyber can bring down our national infrastructure and undermine our democracy.”
Mordaunt added that it is “time to pay more than lip service to cyber” and that the UK must accept the very real cyber threats posed by bad actors across the globe.
The new cyber operations centre will draw upon the capabilities of a number of resources, including both national intelligence and open source data. This, the Ministry of Defence said, will give the Army a “competitive edge across all environments”.
These centres are likely to be used to support overseas operations, humanitarian missions and efforts to protect UK digital communications on home soil. Additionally, they will provide the Army with 24.7 information and analysis, dispel misinformation and give UK armed forces an “upper hand” on anticipating emerging digital threats.
The move is part of an ongoing effort by the British military to develop its cyber capabilities, with £1.9 billion being invested in the National Cyber Security Strategy focused on boosting the nation’s cyber defence capabilities.
Major General Tom Copinger-Symes commented: “These new cyber centres will allow the Army and defence to transform the way we use data, at speed, so that we can compete with our adversaries in a way fit for the 21st century.
“Combining artificial intelligence with our military analysts will help us better understand threats and exploit opportunities, in turn enabling us to get the truth out much more rapidly, quashing the noise of disinformation from our enemies.”
Details on locations for the cyber centres are yet to be confirmed, the MoD said. However, building in support of the centres is due to begin next year, with operations expected to commence in the early 2020s.