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Boris Johnson to set up taskforce in North of England to bolster UK's cyber capacity

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Suban Abdulla
·3 min read
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LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: UK prime minister Boris Johnson attends a virtual Covid-19 news conference at 10 Downing Street on March 8, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Hannah McKay - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Basing the taskforce in the region is intended to generate economic growth in the digital and defence industries while drawing in the private sector and academia to work with the government on projects. Photo: Hannah McKay - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The UK government is set to create more jobs in the North of England as he announces plans for a "cyber corridor" across the region, to bolster Britain's capacity.

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Sunday, that cyber warfare will play an important role in Britain's against hostile countries and terrorist groups.

Johnson is expected to announce the new National Cyber Force (NCF) next week along with a national security review that will lay out "a new cyber strategy to create a cyber ecosystem."

He is due to publish the long-term review in parliaments on Tuesday.

No 10 Downing Street said that the review will "set out the importance of cyber technology" to the UK's way of life "whether it’s defeating our enemies on the battlefield, making the internet a safer place or developing cutting-edge tech to improve people’s lives."

Basing the taskforce in the region is intended to generate economic growth in the digital and defence industries while drawing in the private sector and academia to work with the government on projects.

NCF's role will include carrying out offensive missions against targets including hostile states, terrorist groups, organised crime networks and international paedophile rings. It was set up in 2020 alongside a dedicated army regiment focused on cyber warfare.

A National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was created in 2016 to advise the government and public on how to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks.

The Ministry of Defence said that military-based firms already provides 35,000 jobs in the northwest of England.

The UK spent 2.1% or $59bn (£42.4bn) of national income on defence in 2019 — the highest spend when compared to other large European nations, but below the US's 3.5%. NATO sets out a target that its members should spend at least 2% of GDP on defence.

Johnson said: "Cyber power is revolutionising the way we live our lives and fight our wars, just as air power did 100 years ago. We need to build up our cyber capability so we can grasp the opportunities it presents while ensuring those who seek to use its powers to attack us and our way of life are thwarted at every turn."

"Our new, full-spectrum approach to cyber will transform our ability to protect our people, promote our interests around the world and make the lives of British people better every day."

READ MORE: UK companies urged to update security after Microsoft hack

It comes as, British security officials warned firms to update their security after hackers used flaws in Microsoft’s (MSFT) software to gain access to computers around the world.

Organisations have been told to install the latest Microsoft Exchange Server updates after earlier this week some 30,000 businesses in the US, and hundreds of thousands elsewhere, were attacked.

A Chinese-sponsored hacker group dubbed Hafnium exploited vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange, leaving behind “web shells” that allowed cyber criminals to access victims’ systems remotely. The vulnerabilities go back 10 years, and have been exploited by hackers at least since January.

Officials believe that more than 3,000 UK email servers are still at risk. The National Cyber Security Centre, a part of intelligence agency GCHQ, estimated that 7,000 servers in Britain had been affected by the flaw, and only half of them had been secured.

WATCH: National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan says cyber hack is 'significant'