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U.S., U.K. agree to strengthen cyber security cooperation

During bilateral meetings in Washington last week, President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron agreed to further strengthen and deepen cybersecurity cooperation between the United States and the United Kingdom. The leaders agreed to bolster efforts to enhance critical infrastructure cybersecurity in both countries, strengthen threat information sharing and intelligence cooperation on cyber issues, and support new educational exchanges between U.S. and British cybersecurity scholars and researchers.

“Every day foreign governments, criminals, and hackers are attempting to probe, intrude into, and attack government and private sector systems in both of our countries,” the White House said in a statement. “President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have both made clear that domestic cybersecurity requires cooperation between governments and the private sector. Both leaders additionally recognized that the inherently international nature of cyber threats requires that governments around the world work together to confront those threats.”

The two countries agreed to conduct joint cybersecurity and network defense exercises, focusing specifically, in the coming year, on the financial sector. They will also work with industry to promote and align cybersecurity best practices and standards, including the U.S. Cybersecurity Framework and the United Kingdom’s Cyber Essentials scheme.

Both nations will also work closely on a range of cybersecurity and cyber defense matters. For example, the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) and CERT-UK currently collaborate on computer network defense and sharing information to address cyber threats. To deepen this collaboration in other areas, the U.K.'s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and Security Service (MI5) are working with their U.S. partners -- the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation -- to further strengthen U.S.-U.K. cybersecurity collaboration by establishing a joint cyber cell, with an operating presence in each country. The cell, which will allow staff from each agency to be co-located, will focus on specific cyber defense topics and enable cyber threat information and data to be shared at pace and at greater scale.

The two governments have also agreed to provide funding to support a new Fulbright Cyber Security Award. The program will provide an opportunity for some of the brightest scholars in both countries to conduct cybersecurity research for up to six months. The first cohort is expected to start in the 2016-17 academic year, and the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission will seek applications later this year.

In addition, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (located in Cambridge, MA) has invited the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom to take part in a “Cambridge vs. Cambridge” cybersecurity contest, intended to be the first of many international university cybersecurity competitions. “The aim is to enhance cybersecurity research at the highest academic level,” the White House said.


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