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David Cameron promises £800m to fight the Internet’s ‘unseen enemies’

Prime Minister David Cameron’s crusade against cyber terrorism has reached a new nadir after he pledged £800 million to fund new intelligence and surveillance equipment to tackle “unseen enemies”.

Related: UK again under the cosh as cyber-attacks steal MoD data

Cameron wrote in the Telegraph that the armed forces must be prepared for emerging threats to national security from cyber criminals operating from abroad and the new “intelligence and surveillance” apparatus, which includes drones, is a “national necessity”.

“There are those who believe we would be safer if we fundamentally retreated from the world. They see new warships and military investment and imagine a Government bent on foreign adventurism. But the plain fact is that in the 21st century, you cannot defend the realm from the white cliffs of Dover,” Cameron wrote. “Terrorist plots hatched thousands of miles away threaten to cause harm on our streets. When fragile and lawless states fracture, migration flows can affect us right here.”

The £800 million earmarked for new intelligence and surveillance equipment is part of a larger £1.1 billion investment that includes £300 million to refresh older technology.

“Having a modern, technological, advanced and flexible Armed Forces to protect and advance these interests is not national vanity — it is national necessity,” he added.

It’s not clear exactly what the money will be spent on and the only rumours so far are that the Sentinel R1 surveillance aircraft and various ground components will be replaced.

Cyber attacks on the UK are nothing new and a paper published in April by a UK government department reported that cyber attacks cost larger organisations around £1 million per attack.

Related: Cybercrime a bigger risk to UK than nuclear war: Can your business survive a security onslaught?

All of this has also pushed the government to kick off a new cyber security course in conjunction with the Open University that allows 200,000 people to study the topic and educates students on how to protect the UK.

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