Cyber-attacks

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th July 2018.

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Photo of Stephen McPartland Stephen McPartland Chair, Regulatory Reform Committee 12:00 am, 9th July 2018

What plans he has to strengthen the resilience of the UK’s critical infrastructure against cyber-attacks.

Photo of Mark Lancaster Mark Lancaster The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

Defence takes cyber-threats very seriously, and we regularly assess our ability to defend against them. We are strengthening our defences against increasingly sophisticated attacks through a wide range of technical, operational and administrative measures, including close co-operation with the National Cyber Security Centre.

Photo of Stephen McPartland Stephen McPartland Chair, Regulatory Reform Committee

Can the Minister provide an update on whether the recruitment plan for reservists with cyber-specialisms is working?

Photo of Mark Lancaster Mark Lancaster The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

I am delighted to say that it is. My hon. Friend hits on a key issue. We have recognised that many of the skillsets we need sit in the private sector, which is why we have actively recruited reserves into this area, and I am delighted to say that the joint cyber reserve unit is now at 90% strength.

Photo of Graham Jones Graham Jones Chair, Committees on Arms Export Controls (formerly Quadripartite Committee)

Two weeks ago, a large Hyndburn company had 4,000 cyber-attacks from Russia in one day. What are the Government doing to protect UK companies?

Photo of Mark Lancaster Mark Lancaster The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

I can only update the hon. Gentleman about the opening of the National Cyber Security Centre just a mile down the road. That is precisely why the Government have invested some £1.9 billion in cyber over the past few years.

Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly Deputy Chair, Conservative Party

I welcome my right hon. Friend’s commitment to use the reserve forces as a way to get cyber-experts into the field, metaphorically. Will he ensure that they have a career path through the reserve forces that does not cap them because of their niche specialisations?

Photo of Mark Lancaster Mark Lancaster The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

My hon. Friend raises an important point. That is precisely why I was honoured to open the new Defence Cyber School at Shrivenham in March. We recognise that basic cyber-skills will be vital in our armed forces. This will become a separate career branch in time, but we hope that every member of the armed forces will have cyber-skills.