The UK Government is about to launch a new proactive and offensive cybersecurity team that will wage cyberwarfare against hostile nation-states and online crime organisations. It would be naive to believe that the UK has not launched cyberattacks against third parties, but the killing of Qassem Soleimani has brought this out into the open.
Called the National Cyber Force (NCF), and operated by the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ, it will be the first organisation in Britain dedicated solely to offensive action against adversaries abroad.
A government spokesperson said the MoD and GCHQ “have a long and proud history of working together in the national interest and continue to tackle the real threats that the UK faces from a range of hostile actors”.
Approximately £76m will fund the force in the first year, with command and control shared between the MoD and the Government Communications Headquarters in Cheltenham. Recruitment is projected to take place from the armed forces and intelligence services, as well as academia and the private sector.
The NCF will operate alongside the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which primarily concentrates on defensive cyber activities to protect government departments, strategic infrastructure and industry.
The need for an organisation such as the NCF has been increasingly recognised in security and military circles – due to the rapid rise of extremist propaganda, allegations of Russian interference in western elections and referendum campaigns, disinformation following the Salisbury poisoning, and attacks on public and private institutions by hacking gangs.
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