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UK chases Obama on cybersecurity

Officials aim to release strategy this summer

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Security and intelligence officials plan to publish a UK version of Barack Obama's cybersecurity and defence review before the summer Parliamentary recess, according to sources close to the work.

The US announced its new strategy on Friday following an intensive 60-day investigation of vulnerabilities in government and the private sector.

Obama said computer networks would now be treated as a "strategic national asset" and announced a new senior post in his administration to oversee their defence. It was also reported - but not detailed in the published strategy - that a new arm within the Pentagon will conduct both offensive and defensive network warfare.

It's understood that UK officials are now keen not to be seen to be lagging behind their counterparts in Washington. The UK cybersecurity review is being led by the Cabinet Office, with cooperation from the Home Office, the intelligence services and the Ministry of Defence.

It will be published alongside a revision of the broader National Security Strategy, that was last updated in March 2008. It will be the first time the government has publicly discussed the threat from organised cybercrime, and from network attacks and espionage by foreign states in a standalone document, indicating their increased priority in Whitehall.

In contrast to the high profile granted to the issue by Obama's administration, British ministers here have made only passing reference to separate cybersecurity work.

A Cabinet Office spokesman declined to discuss progress on the strategy or who was in charge of it.

While the UK aims to catch up with the US, the EU recently called for more European cooperation on cybersecurity and defence. It was given a cautious welcome by the Cabinet Office, which told The Register it was "well ahead of the game" compared to other countries in the bloc. ®

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