UK & World News
Cyber Defence Unit Set Up By UK Military
A new cyber unit is being set up by the Ministry of Defence to help protect the UK's critical computer networks from attack.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has appealed to Britain's top IT experts to join up and work as military reservists.
The MoD wants to recruit hundreds of part-time specialists across the Armed Forces to help boost Britain's efforts to block cyber assaults and even "to strike in cyber space".
The Joint Cyber Reserve Unit will work alongside regular forces "to protect critical computer networks and safeguard vital data".
Regular personnel leaving the Armed Forces, and current and former reservists with the necessary skills, are invited to apply along with civilians.
Recruitment starts next month.
The MoD said it "will recognise the unique attributes of individuals who might otherwise not be attracted to, or able to serve in the reserve forces".
Mr Hammond said: "In response to the growing cyber threat, we are developing a full-spectrum military cyber capability, including a strike capability, to enhance the UK's range of military capabilities.
"Increasingly, our defence budget is being invested in high-end capabilities such as cyber and intelligence and surveillance assets to ensure we can keep the country safe.
"The cyber reserves will be an essential part of ensuring we defend our national security in cyber space.
"This is an exciting opportunity for internet experts in industry to put their skills to good use for the nation, protecting our vital computer systems and capabilities."
Anyone applying would be subject to security vetting, officials pointed out, as well as citizenship and residency requirements and a commitment to take part in at least a minimum level of annual training.
Last July, a group of MPs said the threat of a cyber assault on Britain is considered so serious it is marked as a higher threat than a nuclear attack.
Despite being the preferred target of online criminals in 25 countries, the UK is still "complacent" towards cybercrime as victims are "hidden in cyberspace", according to the Home Affairs Select Committee.
The group of MPs said funding and resources for tackling online crime, which includes identity theft, industrial espionage, credit card fraud and child exploitation, has not been sufficiently allocated.
The committee heard that the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau had discovered about 25 countries predominantly targeting the UK and said it was "deeply concerned" that EU partner countries are not doing enough to prevent the attacks.
Online crime - committed by lone hackers, activist groups and nation states sponsoring industrial espionage - has been estimated by online security firm Norton to globally cost around £250bn ($388bn) in financial losses.