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Offensive Cyber-capabilities

Volume 652: debated on Monday 14 January 2019

The Ministry of Defence is committed to exploiting offensive cyber as a warfighting tool. We are developing and employing capabilities through the national offensive cyber programme, and ensuring that offensive cyber is fully integrated with military full-spectrum operations.

Working with the private sector and keeping legislation up to date is essential when it comes to developing cyber-capabilities, offensive or otherwise. What steps is the Department taking to ensure that the private sector is appropriately involved and that legislation is kept up to date?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I can reassure the House that all our offensive cyber operations comply with the law of armed conflict, and with national and international law. This is very much a 21st century technology, which is why we apply the enterprise approach and work closely with the private sector when it comes to developing this capability.

Of course, the private sector is a real success story; there is huge growth in the area. What more can the Government do to work with the private sector—in the context not just of defensive cyber, but of offensive cyber—to ensure that we can bring forward technology that assists not only the country, but UK firms as well?

The short answer is by utilising the skillsets of the private sector. In many ways we have done this by recognising the use of reserves. We cannot always compete with the salaries paid by the private sector, but many of those working in the private sector are committed to national security. That is why this has very much been a growth area when it comes to the use of reserves.

Cyber-security is supposed to be a priority of the modernising defence programme, yet post-Brexit we are going to lose access to the European arrest warrant, Europol and the sharing of data used in EU frameworks. How is the Ministry of Defence going to deal with those challenges?

It is very much within the agreement. Equally, this is a priority, which is precisely why we are investing £1.9 billion in it over coming years.