The UK will not become a sponsor of the Nato Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, defence minister Bob Ainsworth said yesterday.
The centre is located in Estonia and was set up last year to conduct research and training on cyber warfare. It has a staff of 30 people, half of them specialists from the sponsoring countries – Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Spain.
But while the UK remains in touch with the centre, it is not providing staff, according to Ainsworth.
"Given the need to co-ordinate cyber defence with a number of other government departments and allies, the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD's) preferred means of support is by participation in specific mutually beneficial workstreams rather than attaching personnel permanently to Estonia," he said in a written answer to Parliament.
Ainsworth added that the UK would keep its position under review, and that MoD officials visited the centre regularly.
Earlier this month, the government laid out its national cyber security strategy, which will see the creation of an operations unit within GCHQ and a strategy unit within the Cabinet Office.
A major cyber attack on Estonian banks in 2007 prompted Nato to conduct a thorough assessment of its approach to cyber defence and set up the Centre of Excellence.