01 Oct 2013

Military contractors sought for new cyber defence unit

Summary: Military contractors, IT experts and civilians are being sought to help create a new cyber unit set up by the Ministry of Defence to protect the UK’s computer networks from attack and introduce a ‘strike capability’.

Defence and security opportunities

The MOD is looking to recruit hundreds of part-time specialists and security contractors across the Armed Forces to help boost Britain’s efforts to block cyber assaults as part of the Joint Cyber Reserve Unit, which will work alongside regular forces “to protect critical computer networks and safeguard vital data”.

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”.

Defence Secretary Philip 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.

“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.”

Recruitment is subject to security vetting, citizenship and residency requirements and a commitment to take part in a minimum level of annual training.

Defence contractor partnership

The announcement builds on the MOD’s plans to partner with major UK defence contractors in order to share intelligence about the latest cyber threats.

Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, described the threat of cyber attacks as a “gunpowder” moment and said protection against them was vital to the defence of the entire UK.

The Defence Cyber Protection Partnership (DCPP), outlined in July, includes the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the MOD and companies including BAE Systems, BT, Cassidian, CGI, Hewlett Packard, Lockheed Martin, Rolls-Royce, Selex ES and Thales UK.

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.

Peter Armstrong, Director of Cyber Security, Thales UK said of the new plans: “By re-skilling its existing force in cyber security, the Ministry of Defence has addressed the blurring of the lines between physical and virtual defence which has become prevalent over the past decade. With the advent of cyber espionage and attacks which threaten national critical infrastructure, the need for a holistic approach to national security is long overdue. It’s great to see the Ministry of Defence taking its share of responsibility for this alongside its traditional physical defence remit.

“In addition, and just as importantly, this move will help enormously in positioning public sector cyber security as an attractive career prospect for the next generation.”


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