The government has today launched a five-year £1.9bn cybersecurity defence scheme that it says will allow the UK to respond aggressively to global security threats.
Included in the scheme, introduced by chancellor Philip Hammond at Microsoft's Future Decoded expo in London, are plans to increase spending on IT training and the formation of a "virtual institution" consisting of universities that will look to improve security for mobile devices.
"If we want Britain to be the best place in the world to be a tech business then it is also crucial that Britain is a safe place to do digital business," he said. "We need a secure cyber space and we need to work together, business and government, to deliver it."
Hammond issued a rallying call to UK technology businesses, asking them to partner with government in the fight against cyber attackers.
He said the government's National Cyber Security Centre, launched in London Victoria earlier this year, will have a dedicated authority on cyber crime, making it easier for businesses to interact with the government on cybersecurity issues.
Hammond highlighted high-profile cyber attacks from the past few years, including a "colossal attack" on a US server company last week which affected some UK government departments.
"Government cannot be solely responsible for managing cyber risk," he said. "Chief executives and boards must recognise that they have a responsibility to manage those cyber risks, just as they do any other operational risk.
"Similarly, technology companies, many of which are represented here today, must take responsibility for incorporating the best possible security measures into the design of their products. Getting this right will be crucial to keeping Britain at the forefront of digital security technology."
Hammond outlined the hard-line approach that the government plans to take against diplomatic cyber attacks made against the UK, singling out a "small number of hostile foreign actors".
"The ability to detect, trace and retaliate in kind is likely to be the best deterrent," he added. "If we do not have the ability to respond in cyber space to an attack that takes down our power network, leaving us in darkness; or hits our air traffic control system, grounding our planes; we would be left with the impossible choice of turning the other cheek and ignoring the devastating consequences or resorting to a military response - that is a choice we do not want to make."
Ian Jackson, managing director at Imerja, said: "Cyber risk is the biggest threat facing businesses today. We very much welcome today's announcement from the government, and it's encouraging to see more details on the National Cyber Security Strategy and how the £1.9bn will help support organisations across the UK.
"Any initiatives to help raise awareness and bring on the next generation of professionals is definitely a step in the right direction. Cyber criminals are constantly evolving their methods, and we need plenty of fresh talent to help UK plc stay one step ahead.
"This week we've seen a hospital brought to its knees from a virus while earlier this month Yahoo announced it had lost 500 million user credentials. No organisation is immune from the potential for attack, and this issue is only going to get worse, so we urge the government to continue this level of support in the years to come."
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