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UK building cyber army reserve to sharpen online strikes and defense

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Philip Hammond British Defense Secretary (Wikimedia Commons)
Philip Hammond British Defense Secretary (Wikimedia Commons)

The United Kingdom wants to build up its cyber army, and it's spending and hiring more than ever to do so, according to a Reuters report. On Monday, Britain's Defense Secretary, Philip Hammond, said at a conference held by the country's Conservative party that the government is looking to recruit hundreds into what he called a Joint Cyber Reserve. This new team of hackers, programmers, and cyber experts would be tasked not only with surveillance and spying online, but also bulking up the country's defenses against web attacks. "Last year our cyber defenses blocked around 400,000 advanced malicious cyber threats against the government's secure internet alone," Hammond said in the report. "The threat is real."

"The threat is real." The defense secretary didn't divulge just how much the UK plans to spend in its escalating cyber warfare push, but he noted that the Joint Cyber Reserve would work alongside multiple British agencies, including the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the Ministry of Defense. According to documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and reported by the The Guardian newspaper, the GCHQ has partnered in the past with the US's National Security Agency to trade information from the two agencies respective surveillance efforts, Tempora and PRISM.

"Building cyber defenses is not enough."

"Simply building cyber defenses is not enough," Hammond said. "Britain will build a dedicated capability to counterattack in cyberspace and if necessary to strike in cyberspace." The defense chief declined to say just who was lodging online attacks against the UK, but Reuters said that sources have told it that China or Russia are believed to be responsible for most of the threats.