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UK provides £15 million for Commonwealth cyber security


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The UK government has announced a £15 million funding package to support Commonwealth countries in developing their cyber security capabilities.

The money will support tailored projects for smaller countries and the development of a Commonwealth Cyber Governance network bringing together experts from across the organisation.

The UK will also appoint more in-country cyber attaches to its diplomatic staff and there will be an increase in the number of UN women-in-cyber fellows.

This follows the UK having made cyber security and resilience a priority for the Commonwealth during its period as chair-in-office over the past four years, and a Commonwealth statement in 2020 called for greater co-ordination of cyber security. It has also helped civil society groups in Belize, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Ghana contribute to cyber security strategies.

Expanding alliance

Announcing the funding at a meeting of Commonwealth heads of government, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “In an increasingly geopolitical world the Commonwealth is a vital and expanding alliance united behind values of democracy, human rights and sovereignty.

“The Commonwealth are collectively taking action to bolster our resilience and security, including in cyberspace, to stand up against autocratic regimes that challenge our freedoms.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a stark warning to us all that our sovereignty and security is increasingly under threat around the world and in cyberspace.”

Impact report

Cyber security information organisation Get Safe Online, which has been involved in earlier support, has published an impact report showing that since 2018 an earlier round of funding has reached over 60 miliion people through tailored online safety websites in 22 countries.

It has also involved training for 6,000 people, the recruitment of 234 cyber champions across 21 countries, and over 140 events in 32 countries.

Dr Tawanda Hondora, head of rule of law at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said: “The Commonwealth Cyber Security Programme has helped to strengthen domestic and multilateral anti-cybercrime frameworks in the Commonwealth.

“As a result, 90% of Commonwealth countries now have the capacity to investigate and prosecute cybercriminals and have dedicated units in many police forces, trained judges and magistrates, and greater capability to collect, process and use electronic evidence in criminal enquiries and trials. We’re now working to ensure that smaller Commonwealth countries also share in these benefits.”

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