Data and securityCyber SecurityNew Army cyber operations centres for MOD

New Army cyber operations centres for MOD

Secretary of State for Defence expanded the commitment cybersecurity, announcing £22m in funding to stand up new Army cyber operations centres across the UK

Cyber innovation continues to be placed at the forefront of the UK’s approach to modern warfare, with Secretary of State for Defence, Penny Mordaunt, announcing £22m in funding for Army cyber operations centres.

Speaking at the NATO Cyber Defence Pledge Conference in London, Mordaunt addressed the need for the UK and NATO members to recognise cyber attacks as central to modern warfare. As the UK has already demonstrated against Daesh in the Middle East, it can be a vital tool to keep people in the UK and overseas safe from virtual and physical threats.

While details of locations are yet to be confirmed, building of the centres is due to begin next year, with operations expected to commence in the early 2020s.

Transforming the cyber security capabilities

The military continues to develop its cyber capabilities as part of the £1.9bn investment into the National Cyber Security Strategy, focused on boosting the UK’s cyber security. Recent UK innovations have included the creation of the National Cyber Security Centre which brings together government, intelligence agencies and the private sector into one organisation. The state-of-the-art Defence Cyber School, which marked its first anniversary in March this year, is also training the next generation of cyber experts.

The Autumn Budget Statement published in September 2018 allocated an additional £200m during fiscal year 2018/19 and a further £800m for 2019/20 putting emphasis to the need for investments in cyber capabilities. £1bn out of this allocation was to go towards capability improvement against cyber-crime.

In February, Ministry of Defence (MOD) invited applications to understand cyber risk exposure using Cyber Risk Tooling, in its bid to fight cyber crime. The government is on course on its plan for transforming the cyber security capabilities and turning UK into a world leader in cyber security. The government wants to get rid of some of the most damaging cyber security threats facing businesses and better protect consumers.

The MOD is embracing transformation at an ever-faster rate and investments in truly high-tech innovation, such as in the provision of cutting-edge cyber centres, that will develop the Armed Forces of the future.

Under the Modernising Defence Programme, the MOD is adopting transformation rapidly. The Transformation Fund investments are aimed at a pathway for creating next generation armed forces. In March, the Army got investments for military robotics and digital apps.

More than lip service to cyber

Putting the Army at the forefront of information warfare, the centres will draw together cyber capability from a range of sources – including both national intelligence and open source data – to give the Army the competitive edge across all environments.

Secretary of State for Defence said: “We know all about the dangers. Whether the attacks come from Russia, China or North Korea. Whether they come from hacktivists, criminals or extremists. Whether its malware or fake news. Cyber can bring down our national infrastructure and undermine our democracy.

“It’s time to pay more than lip service to cyber. We must convince our adversaries their advances simply aren’t worth the cost. Cyber enemies think they can act with impunity. We must show them they can’t. That we are ready to respond at a time and place of our choosing in any domain, not just the virtual world.

“We need coherent cyber offense as well as defence. So today I can announce we will be investing £22m to create new cyber operations centres.”

Quashing the noise of disinformation

The cyber centres will provide the Army with 24/7 information and analysis, dispel misinformation and give the UK Armed Forces and allies the upper hand on emerging digital threats. The centres are likely to be used to support overseas operations, humanitarian missions, and efforts to protect UK digital communications on home soil.

The centres will work with existing Army capabilities, but will also have regular contact with joint and other national security organisations. On such example is the 77 Brigade – a modern and information-focused British Army unit.

Major General Tom Copinger-Symes, General Officer Commanding Force Troops Command said: “These new cyber centres will allow the Army and Defence to transform the way we use data, at speed, so that we can compete with our adversaries in a way fit for the 21st Century.

“Combining artificial intelligence with our military analysts will help us better understand threats and exploit opportunities, in turn enabling us to get the truth out much more rapidly, quashing the noise of disinformation from our enemies.”

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