(Bloomberg) -- Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will double funding for Britain’s cyber defenses as Europe braces itself for further attacks from Islamist extremists.
The U.K. will spend 1.9 billion pounds ($2.9 billion) countering Islamic State’s use of the Internet for planning, propaganda and cyber attacks, Osborne will say on Tuesday in a speech at Government Communications Headquarters, the U.K. communications-intelligence agency. He will also announce the creation of a “cyber force,” including an Institute for Coding.
“It is right that we choose to invest in our cyber defenses even at a time when we must cut other budgets," he will say in the speech in Cheltenham, western England, according to excerpts released by his office. Security "was going to be an important outcome of the spending review. What has unfolded in Paris has reminded us all that it is a vital one too."
Recent attacks, including the downing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt and the killing of at least 129 people in Paris, both claimed by Islamic State, have led western governments to step up preparations for a long fight against terrorism. Tuesday’s announcement comes a day after Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to hire 1,900 new spies.
Osborne will say security and cyber protection will be the focus of his spending review on Nov. 25, warning that Britain must be prepared for ‘hybrid conflicts’ played out on the Internet as well as on the ground.
Britain’s intelligence agencies currently employ about 12,700 staff, split between MI5, which handles domestic security, MI6, responsible for overseas intelligence, and GCHQ, which monitors communications. The U.K. will also double spending on aviation security, including hiring staff to assess security at foreign airports.
The National Cyber Security Plan will focus on protecting the U.K. from the increasing threat of online attacks against business, infrastructure and individuals, as well as strengthening its capability as a cyber economy, Osborne will say. Along with the cyber task force based in Cheltenham, a team will look at cooperation by Internet service providers to divert malware attacks and a renewed crackdown on cyber-criminals.
“Before the dreadful events of the weekend, we had already indicated that we would be increasing substantially the resources we dedicate to countering the terrorist threat,” the Chancellor will say. “Defending our citizens from hostile powers, criminals or terrorists, the Internet represents a critical axis of potential vulnerability. From our banks to our cars, our military to our schools, whatever is online is also a target.”
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