Foreign secretary William Hague has announced that the government is planning to build a new global cyber security “centre of excellence” aimed at helping developing nations combat cyber crime.
Speaking yesterday at the Budapest Conference on Cyberspace, Hague said the government will invest £2 million per year on the Centre for Global Cyber-Security Capacity Building to guard the UK against cyber attack while offering countries advice on how to improve security, resilience, co-ordination and “good governance” online.
The foreign secretary called for a new international consensus to improve cooperation between states, businesses and organisations to combat the worst abuses in cybercrime.
“The Internet has been an unprecedented engine for growth, for social progress and for innovation, across the globe and in all areas of human endeavour,” he said. “But there is a darker side to it, and in the United Kingdom we believe it is time to shine a strong light on those shadows.”
Hague said that while several nations do not yet have the defences or the resources to counter state-sponsored cyber attack, many could tackle cybercrime through simple measures such as improving crisis communications, cooperation between national computer emergency response teams, collaborating on tackling e-crime and responding to cyber attacks.
Warning delegates about the “much larger” threat of organised crime, Hague said that it has also never been easier to become a cyber criminal.
“It is now possible to buy off-the-shelf malicious software, designed to steal bank details, for as little as £3,000, including access to a 24-hour technical support line,” he said. “As Foreign Secretary I see frequent evidence of deliberate and organised attacks against intellectual property and government networks in the United Kingdom.”
While the location of the building will be announced by the end of 2012, it will be built at one of eight universities that were awarded “centre of excellence in cyber security research” status by the Government Communication Headquarters (GHCQ) earlier this year.
The centre’s potential locations include : the university Bristol, Lancaster University, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Southampton, Imperial College London, University of Oxford, Royal Holloway, University of London and University College London.
When tendering for a contract, the UK government will require competing universities to put forward a case outlining their suitability for the new cybercrime centre.