Government to sell tech to fund fight against cybercrime

The government is going on the offensive against cybercrime with new online crime units, and will share tech with private companies.

The government is going on the offensive against cybercrime and cyberwarfare with new police and military online crime units. And electronic listening post GCHQ will begin to share technology with private companies to help them fight against electronic attack.

GCHQ is the government's electronic listening post in Cheltenham, a giant glass to the wall of reality, monitoring communications traffic.

The initiatives were revealed today as the government laid out its strategy to spend £650m on cybersecurity. Plans include revamping public information campaigns about staying safe online, and calling for developers to agree to a kitemark rating system for software. But that's boring -- let's go back to the spies and stuff.

The government confirmed a new cybercrime unit will be part of the National Crime Agency, which replaces the existing Serious Organised Crime Agency in 2013. The existing Metropolitan Police Central e-Crime Unit will become part of the new online crime-busting team, forming a central point between e-crime units in different police forces.

And the military is going on the offensive online too. A new Cyber Defence Operations Group is being created by the Ministry of Defence to develop military cyber capabilities, both for defending against electronic attack and for taking the fight to foreign powers.

The plans are designed to be a money-spinner for the government, with private companies paying a pretty penny for the innovations coming from GCHQ. A similar relationship exists in the US, but those involved insist spooks won't be distracted by a commercial role.

Fifteen companies have signed up to start sharing information and technology, including Barclays, BT and Vodafone. The trial scheme starts next month.