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UK.gov to create central cybersecurity agency

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Secret operations currently carried out by parts of the intelligence and security services will be centralised in Whitehall as part of an ongoing major review of cybersecurity, according to a report.

The Cabinet Office is due to publish the UK's version of Barack Obama's cybersecurity stategy before the summer Parliamentary recess, which begins in late July. The US President last month announced a new "cyber tsar" role and agency to oversee efforts to prepare for and respond to attacks by enemy states and organised criminals.

The UK is now set to follow suit, according to The Guardian. Officials aim to centralise national cybersecurity strategy under a new high profile umbrella agency. Currently, the Ministry of Defence, Home Office, MI5, MI6 and GCHQ share responsibility for protecting critical UK online communications, and work mostly in the shadows.

The proposal will be the centrepiece of the government's updated National Security Strategy, it's reported.

Cybersecurity has quickly risen up the political and policy agenda in the last 18 months. A crippling attack on Estonia, allegedly sponsored by the Kremlin - which also launched cyber attacks during last year's conflict with Georgia - has helped drive policy initiatives on the issue, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Officials also fear attacks from China.

The European Commission is now encouraging member states to cooperate on digital wargames, to simulate attacks from outside the bloc. Commissioners have suggested a European cyber security tsar should be appointed.

The Commission also wants tougher penalties for cyber crime offences, The Financial Times reports, although it has no power to impose them. ®

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