Hammond’s ‘cyber army’ of hackers and IT experts

A hacker controlling a trojan horse computer virus. The UK government wants to build a 'cyber force' with attack and defence capability. Picture: Getty

A hacker controlling a trojan horse computer virus. The UK government wants to build a 'cyber force' with attack and defence capability. Picture: Getty

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DEFENCE Secretary Philip Hammond has appealed to Britain’s top IT experts to join up as military reservists to protect the UK’s computer networks from cyber attack.

The Ministry of Defence is seeking to recruit hundreds of part-time specialists across the armed forces as part of Britain’s capability to counter such attacks or even “to strike in cyber space”.

Recruitment starts next month to the Joint Cyber Reserve Unit, which will work alongside regular forces “to protect critical computer networks and safeguard vital data”.

As well as targeting regular personnel leaving full-time roles and existing reservists with the right skills, Mr Hammond hopes to attract experts who would not otherwise consider joining up.

“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,” Mr Hammond said.

“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 cyberspace.

“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.”

Mr Hammond was heckled during his speech yesterday by a retired army colonel who called him a disgrace for cutbacks to his former regiment. Colonel Ian Brazier, 59, accompanied by Captain Joe Eastwood, 76, interrupted Mr Hammond to claim the Ministry of Defence had betrayed members of the Royal Fusiliers by cutting the regiment back.

He said: “We were not in the disbandment plan.

“We were substituted at the last minute, for reasons we have yet to be told.”

Mr Hammond promised to speak to the retired soldier, a Conservative Party member, before the pair were ushered out of the hall by security guards.

He said Mr Hammond should now be replaced as Defence Secretary by somebody “who knows what they are doing”.

Mr Hammond said the decision to cut the regiment back was made by the British Army.

A spokeswoman for the army later said: “These changes were led by the army.”

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