MoD and GCHQ Set to Launch Offensive Cyber Force

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The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) and surveillance service GCHQ are reportedly working on launching a £250m cyber task force designed to enhance the nation’s offensive capabilities.

The new unit will apparently combine contractors, GCHQ spies and military personnel in a force of up to 2000 online experts.

"By adopting offensive cyber techniques in the UK we are levelling the playing field and providing new means of both deterring and punishing states that wish to do us harm," said general Richard Barrons, former commander of Joint Forces Command.

While Russia could be a natural focus for operations given its own increase in activity in this space, the force will also be tasked with targeting terrorist groups, according to Sky News.

It revealed how the UK has already been playing a major role alongside the US in a series of clandestine operations against the Islamic State, including one known as Glowing Symphony.

These efforts have apparently helped to suppress IS propaganda online and restrict the ability of groups to organize effectively.

James Hadley, CEO of Immersive Labs, welcomed the news.

“This statement shows that the UK is continuing its responsibilities as a forerunner in cybersecurity and positions it as a secure place to conduct global business,” he added.

“Equally, companies should be looking to create their own cyber-strong workforces and ensuring that their skills process is consistent to keep up with the changing threat landscape.”

However, it’s unclear whether the UK even has the numbers necessary to staff such an operation, given current skills shortages.

“This announcement highlights the growing need for more cyber-savvy workers in the UK, to secure our future at a national, organizational and personal level,” argued Colin Lobley, CEO of Cyber Security Challenge UK.

“While many people are still unsure of what a career in cybersecurity would look like, the reality is that many of these jobs require similar skills and knowledge to more known careers; for example, we need architects to build secure networks, lawyers to process cybercrime cases, psychologists to assess how human behavior influences security, as well as military roles to act against national threats.”

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