GCHQ offers web security knowledge to private firms

British intelligence agency GCHQ - the Government Communications Headquarters - is set to offer private firms expertise in dealing with web based threats as well as the chance to buy some of the in-house security software that has been developed.

This is part of a new cyber-security scheme outlined by the government that will not only improve cooperation between private and public sectors but will bring increased funding to agencies like GCHQ. The Guardian reports that there will also be stricter laws put in place for those convicted of web-based crimes, as well as the creation of a new cyber-defence operations group at the Ministry of Defence, which will be charged with developing new tactics and plans to develop military "cyber capabilities."

When discussing this new strategy - the second to address web-based dangers in the past two years - minster for cyber security Francis Maude said: "Closer partnership between the public and private sector is crucial. The strategy heralds a new era of unprecedented co-operation between the government and industry on cyber security, working hand in hand to make the UK one of the most secure places in the world to do business."

The companies involved in the potential link up with GCHQ are some of the largest in the country, including BT, Barclays, Vodafone and Centrica. Each has been working with the government to develop a pilot scheme of the new cooperation, due to begin in December.

With a strategy like this, it's thought that as well as providing added security for firms and improving information sharing, that it will generate revenue in the millions of pounds for the government through software sales and consultations.

In setting up this scheme, ministers have been drawing inspiration from the American firm In-Q-Tel, a company funded by the CIA. It operates on a not-for-profit basis and has provided technology for companies like Google as well as the US government.