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UK's cyber warriors go into battle in March

Onward online soldiers

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The UK's new cyberwarfare unit will be ready for action on 10 March, according to the government.

The Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC), located at GCHQ in Cheltenham, will have an initial staff of 19, said Baroness Crawley.

CSOC will monitor the internet for threats to UK infrastrucutre and counter-attack when necessary.

The staffing figure, released in response to a Parliamentary question, puts paid to recent hyperbole suggesting the intelligence agencies were recruiting a 50-strong "army" of teenage hackers.

CSOC was announced in June as the operational centrepiece of the UK's first cybersecurity strategy. Funding for the unit hasn't been revealed, but it will come from the GCHQ's budget, which stretches into hundreds of millions.

The Office of Cyber Security, a new unit in the Cabinet Office set up to coordinate policy, is also currently being set up, to be led by senior civil servant Neil Thompson. Crawley said it will have 18 staff and a budget of £130,000 for the remainder of this financial year. ®

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