Foreign Secretary announces £2m cyber security centre

Password protection

The UK Government is to invest 2 million in the development of a new cyber security centre that will advise overseas countries on how to protect themselves from online threats.

The creation of the Centre for Global Cyber-Security Capacity Building in the UK was announced in a speech given earlier today by Foreign Secretary William Hague at the Budapest Conference on Cyberspace.

The Government claimed the centre will help with the development of an international and co-ordinated response to cyber threats, and allow countries to make use of the UK's cyber security research resources.

Many nations simply do not have the resources to counter state-sponsored cyber attacks.

During his address at the Budapest conference, Hague fleshed out the reasons why the centre was needed, explaining that not all countries are as well equipped as the UK when it comes to evading cyber threats.

"Many nations simply do not have the defences or the resources to counter state-sponsored cyber attack," said Hague.

"If we do not find ways of agreeing principles to moderate such behaviour and deal with its consequences, then some countries could find themselves vulnerable to a wholly new strategic threat [and will be] effectively held to ransom by hostile states."

He also flagged up some of the recent threats that UK companies have fallen victim to, including a spear-phishing email attack that resulted in thousands of passwords being stolen.

"Hackers used a spear-phishing email attack to gain access to the subsidiary's network [and] from there stole passwords, including those for the parent company's file servers," he said.

"From that file server, they were able to steal 100GB of the parent company's sensitive intellectual property, roughly equivalent to a document made up of 20 million pages of A4."

In another attack, 200 email accounts at 30 of the UK's 47 Government departments were targeted by hackers intent on installing malware onto users' machines.

"Without good protective security, the attackers might have gained unfettered access to sensitive Government information," warned Hague.

Francis Maude, Cabinet Office minister for cyber security, said: "Today with over two billion people online and billions more set to join them in the next decade we are all stakeholders in the internet and must all invest in its successful future.

"Today's challenge is to ensure we can keep on enjoying its wonders - by ensuring that all countries can protect themselves from cyber threats."

Rob Cotton, chief executive of information security services firm NCC Group, has hit out at the plans, claiming 2 million is a pitiful amount to invest in cyber security.

"The government has said cybercrime costs the UK economy 27 billion a year. This isn't even a drop in the ocean," said Cotton.

"We're not any closer to getting the action and assistance that is needed from the policy makers. Businesses and end users are crying out for education and practical advice not a budget cybercrime centre."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.