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UK government launches £6.5 million cyber security scheme with GCHQ

Following on from the rise to prominence of cyber security this year, the UK government has launched a scheme that will gather funds for research into the area, in collaboration with the GCHQ spy agency.

To date, 18 companies have signed up and have committed £6.5 million of investment over the next five years to the scheme, dubbed CyberInvest.

"The UK is doing well but we want to keep moving forward. Technology in this area changes hugely all the time and other nations are working hard as well so we want to have an even more coordinated and a more focused approach to cyber research," Ed Vaizey, the UK's digital economy minister said.

Vaizey said the CyberInvest scheme will help to give the companies that work alongside the government and intelligence agencies "public recognition".

"CyberInvest is about bringing together academia, industry and government to address the critical shortage of high-end cyber research in a more focused way," added GCHQ director Robert Hannigan.

GCHQ is working in collaboration with the Department for Culture, Media and Sports and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and the programme already boasts high-profile members including HP, BT and IBM.

According to Professor Angela Sasse, head of IT at University College London, access to data held by GCHQ will be a key benefit of the scheme for academia.

Meanwhile Mark Hughes, cyber security director at BT, explained how the technology industry has a "long history" of cyber research investment that is often overlooked.

"We need a better platform to get recognition and showcase the good work that is already going on through collaboration with academic centres," he said.

"[CyberInvest] really does accelerate our ability to gain access to thews brightest and best UK academics,” said Mark Hughes, cyber security director at BT, a firm that intends to invest £500,000 into the CyberInvest scheme over the next five years. "This will then allow us as an industry to commercialise that intellectual property, that it to market and create more product we can be known for in the UK."

"Our investment areas are visual cyber analytics, cloud protection, the internet of things (IoT) security and quantum key distribution," Hughes added.

GCHQ revealed that the amount of cyber attacks it encounters has doubled in a single year, reaching roughly 400 a month compared to 200 in 2014.

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