CYBER-ATTACKS are increasing in frequency, severity and sophistication, Philip Hammond will warn today as the Queen officially opens the new National Cyber Security Centre[NCSC] in London.
The Chancellor will urge the business community to "sharpen its approach" as the scale of the threat "increases and intensifies".
At the weekend it was revealed that Britain's national security is threatened by dozens of cyber-attacks every month.
Loading article content
"The cyber-attacks we are seeing are increasing in their frequency, their severity, and their sophistication. In the first three months of its existence the NCSC has already mobilised to respond to attacks on 188 occasions," said Mr Hammond.
The centre will operate as part of GCHQ counter-espionage centre and will be tasked with using the best data, skills and capabilities to “make the UK the safest place in the world to live and work online”.
It will work hand in hand with industry to keep the country safe, the Chancellor will say.
In the last 12 months, two in three large businesses reported a cyber-breach or attack.
"Yet,” the Chancellor will explain, “nine out of 10 businesses don't even have an incident management plan in the event of a cyber breach. Business has to sharpen its approach as the scale of the threat from cyber increases and intensifies."
Mr Hammond, who will make clear the UK Government cannot protect businesses and the public from the threat of cyber-attacks on its own, will also announce a new initiative, Industry 100, which will see 100 NCSC secondments granted to private sector staff to work in the centre.
Security experts have warned the UK faces a growing threat from cyber-attacks and the danger has been underlined by allegations about Russian interference in the US Presidential election.
Last year, the Government launched the NCSC, which is underpinned by a £1.9 billion cash injection.
Ciaran Martin, the centre's Chief Executive, said: "We will help secure our critical services, lead the response to the most serious incidents and improve the underlying security of the internet through technological improvement and advice to citizens and organisations."
Ian Levy, the centre’s Technical Director, said it would use the Government as "a guinea pig for all the measures we want to see done by industry at national scale".
During their tour of the building, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will be joined not only by the Chancellor but also by Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, Ben Gummer, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, and Matt Hancock, the Minister for Digital and Culture.
Meantime, a senior security official has warned that Britain's defences against cyber-attacks are more critical than ever as the vast majority of the population use online services.
In her first interview, Alison Whitney, Deputy Director for Digital Services at the NCSC, highlighted its importance in an era when millions log on as part of their everyday lives.
She described today's official unveiling of the centre as a "really significant" moment given cyber was now in the "top tier" of national security threats.
"There are terrorist groups that have an intent when it comes to cyber-attacks but they don't have the capability," she said.
The scale of cyber-crime has been laid bare by official figures showing there are about two million computer misuse offences a year.
"We do so much business online. Every citizen in the United Kingdom, pretty much, is accessing some service online, be it just things like internet shopping or more and more the kinds of service that we get from government.
"Making sure that we can do that securely is more and more important to everybody in the UK,” explained Ms Whitney.
"That's really what the NCSC is here to do. We say and we really do mean that we are here to make the UK the safest place to do business and to live online," she added.