Foreign secretary William Hague has announced that the UK government will spend £2m a year on a centre of excellence for fighting cyber crime.
The Centre for Global Cyber-Security Capacity Building will help the UK guard against the increasing number of cyber attacks, while offering advice to - and assisting communications between - other nations.
The centre, based at one of eight UK universities awarded Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research status, will aim to put the UK at the centre of coordination between nations.
Hague told delegates at Budapest Conference on Cyberspace in Hungary that cyber crime represents one of "greatest global challenges of our time" with "all nations in the firing line."
Never been easier
Hague told the audience: "It has never been easier to become a cyber criminal than it is today.
"It is now possible to buy off-the-shelf malicious software, designed to steal bank details, for as little as £3,000, including access to a 24-hour technical support line.
"I see frequent evidence of deliberate and organised attacks against intellectual property and government networks in the United Kingdom."
New dimension in conflicts
Hauge said that it is now essential for nations to work together establish the best ways to combat the increasing threat and deal with the potentially devastating consequences of attacks.
He added: "Cyberspace is emerging as a new dimension in conflicts of the future. Many nations simply do not yet have the defences or the resources to counter state-sponsored cyber attack.
"If we do not find ways of agreeing principles to moderate such behaviour and to deal with its consequences, then some countries could find themselves vulnerable to a wholly new strategic threat: effectively held to ransom by hostile states."
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