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Volume 644: debated on Monday 9 July 2018

17. What plans he has to strengthen the resilience of the UK’s critical infrastructure against cyber-attacks. (906329)

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.

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

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.

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?

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.

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?

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.