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UK to help vulnerable countries against Russia, China cyber threat

·2 min read
Hooded an holds laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Wednesday it would invest 22 million pounds ($31 million) to help vulnerable countries in Africa and the Indo-Pacific build up their cyber defences to prevent China, Russia and others from filling a cyberspace vacuum.

British foreign minister Dominic Raab said Britain and its partners needed to take action to ensure there was a cyberspace that was free, open and peaceful in the face of hostile states seeking to undermine democratic elections and turn the internet into a lawless space.

"We've got to win the hearts and minds across the world in a much broader space for our positive vision of a cyberspace ... there for the benefit of the whole world," Raab said at an online security conference.

"Frankly, we've also got to prevent China, Russia and others from filling the multilateral vacuum. That means doing a lot more to support the poorest and most vulnerable countries who are most at risk."

Last month, Britain joined the United States in saying Russia's foreign intelligence service, known as the SVR, was responsible for the SolarWinds hack which led to the compromise of nine federal agencies and hundreds of private sector companies.

Britain's top cyber spy also warned in April that the West needed to act urgently to ensure China does not dominate important emerging technologies and gain control of the "global operating system".

Raab said Britain's investment would be used to support national cyber response teams, advise on mass online safety awareness campaigns and to collaborate with global police coordination agency Interpol to set up a new cyber operations hub in Africa.

This hub would operate across Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Rwanda to help fight cybercrime in the fast-growing economies, the foreign office said.

($1 = 0.7075 pounds)

(Reporting by Michael Holden, editing by Elizabeth Piper)