UK's National Cyber Force Heads to the Northwest

The government has released more details about a planned National Cyber Force (NCF), confirming that it will be located in the northwest village of Samlesbury.

First mooted in 2018, the new facility will form the hub of the UK’s offensive cyber capabilities, drawing personnel from GCHQ, the Ministry of Defence, MI6 and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).

“The National Cyber Force will help confront aggressive behavior from malign actors, and demonstrate that Britain is investing in next-generation defense capability to protect our people and help our friends counter cyber-threats. It sends a powerful message to our allies and adversaries alike,” said foreign secretary, Liz Truss.

The move is part of the ruling Conservative Party’s efforts to shift more public sector jobs out of London in an attempt to appeal to its newfound voter base in the north.

Situated between Blackburn and Preston, Samlesbury has little to its name save for a 14th-century country house, a BAE Systems aircraft factory and a brewery.

The government was at pains to point out that any offensive activities it carries out from the new National Cyber Force would be done in a “legal, ethical and proportionate” manner to disrupt hostile states, terrorists and criminals threatening the UK’s national security.

It claimed to be a world leader in such matters, with GCHQ having pioneered techniques to break ISIS propaganda networks.

The hub has been in operation since April 2020 but will reportedly expect more than £5bn in funding before 2030, highlighting the strategic importance with which it is regarded in government.

The announcement follows the opening of a GCHQ facility in Manchester, which the government is positioning as the ‘cyber center’ of the UK. It claimed more than 15% of the city’s population now works in the “digital, creative and technology sector.”

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