Britain will recruit hundreds of computer experts to defend its vital networks against cyber attacks and launch hi-tech assaults of its own, defence secretary Philip Hammond said on Sunday.

Addressing the annual conference of his ruling Conservative party, Hammond said Britain was spending increasing amounts of its defence budget, the fourth largest in the world, on cyber intelligence and surveillance.

“Last year our cyber defences blocked around 400 000 advanced malicious cyber threats against the government’s secure Internet alone, so the threat is real,” he told delegates.

“But simply building cyber defences is not enough: as in other domains of warfare, we also have to deter. Britain will build a dedicated capability to counterattack in cyberspace and if necessary to strike in cyberspace.”

SOURCE: itweb.co.za