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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

National Cyber Force to be based in Samlesbury


The government has announced that its cyber-attack agency, known as the National Cyber Force, will be based in Lancashire.

The organisation aims to counter threats from criminals, terrorists and hostile states.

Operating since April 2020, it includes officials from MI6, cyber-spy agency GCHQ and the military under a unified command for the first time.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said it would “confront aggressive behaviour”.

The National Cyber Force (NCF) will be based in Samlesbury, which hosts an aircraft factory for the military technology firm BAE Systems and has been heavily involved in military aircraft development since 1922.

Located in a purpose-built premises, it will receive more than £5 billion of investment before 2030, the government said.

A Conservative spokeswoman said it would be “home for thousands of cyber hackers and analysts” and would create hundreds of support jobs in business and legal affairs.

Disruptive tactics

The existence of the NCF was only formally announced by the prime minister in November 2020.

The goal is for cyber-operations to work closely with traditional military forces when British forces go into combat, with potential scenarios including operators hacking into enemy air defences.

To prevent a threat like 2017’s WannaCry attack, which took down parts of the NHS and other organisations by scrambling their data, tactics could include disrupting a suspect’s mobile phone or a cyber-crime group’s computer servers.

Communicating with attackers to undermine their morale and dissuade them could be another method.

‘Powerful message’

“The National Cyber Force will help confront aggressive behaviour from malicious actors, and demonstrate that Britain is investing in next-generation defence capability to protect our people and help our friends counter cyber threats,” Ms Truss said. It sends a strong message to both our allies and adversaries.”

“I am hugely proud and enthusiastic to see this happen,” said Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who is also the Conservative MP for the nearby Wyre and Preston North constituency. “Not only will it provide a catalyst for investment, but it will also see our levelling up agenda bring economic stimulus and tangible benefits to this region.”

In 2019, intelligence agency GCHQ opened a hub in Manchester which operates alongside its headquarters in Cheltenham and offices in Cornwall and Scarborough.

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