MoD Receives Funding Boost and Confirms Increase in Cyber-Spending

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The UK government has dedicated an extra £16.5bn to defense spending which will see a heavy investment in cybersecurity defense and offensive capabilities.

The Ministry of Defence has been given a four-year funding settlement, which includes a 10% increase in its annual £40bn budget – despite other government departments having a single-year settlement due to the COVID-19 impact.

According to BBC News, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday evening that he was making the announcement “in the teeth” of the pandemic because “the defense of the realm must come first.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s The Today Show, defense minister Ben Wallace said there was a need to modernize and invest in defending new domains that pose a threat to our way of life. This includes cyber “as our adversaries are investing heavily and [they] are using what we would call the sub threshold to constantly attack us, and we need to make sure we defend against that.”

Also, £1.5bn of the budget will go on creating a national cyber-force and will provide the option “to launch offensive cyber-weapons against our adversaries, or against other areas that currently pose a threat.” Wallace said this would give the opportunity to attack a server being used by an attacker as an example, as some adversaries are foreign states.

“We have to be mindful that the power of cyber can cause real problems, so we need the ability to strike back if we need to,” he said. “We also need the ability to tackle the non-state threats.” He explained his will include taking down servers being used to host child abuse images.

Plans for the National Cyber Force were announced in 2018. It will bring together offensive operations, combine contractors, GCHQ spies and military personnel in a force of up to 2000 online experts, and will be operated by the MoD and GCHQ.

Commenting, Francis Gaffney, director of threat intelligence and response at Mimecast, said: “It is really positive to see the UK government acknowledging cybersecurity as a significant enough concern to continue with these large investments in its cyber-activity.

“At Mimecast, our latest threat report observed a total number of 163.92 million attacks in the last month, taking the total number of attacks in 2020 past the one billion mark. This is almost certainly a result of the pandemic and many UK organizations working remotely in such a volume for the first time, leaving many of them potentially more vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

“This initiative will also have a positive impact on the overall cyber-hygiene level of citizens and organizations of the UK, as it further elevates the cybersecurity threat and keeps it at the forefront of the thoughts of the British public. I definitely welcome the continued interest and funding of the UK’s cyber-defenses. Long may it continue.”

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