With cyber experts fighting to protect the UK is it time to re-think the term ‘keyboard warrior’?
Anyone following the development of Defence at present will recognise that 'Cyber' has been the watchword of the last decade. Since the early 2010’s Cyber development has been at the forefront of Defence innovation and strategy, with an ever-increasing importance put onto the need to develop a resilience in the UK’s cyber capability.
As part of this strategy, in October of 2013 Defence introduced a new type of reserve unit: the Cyber Reserve. For nearly a decade, highly skilled people have offered the same expertise which they employ in their everyday workplace to help protect the country from the growing threat posed by hostile cyber activity.
The majority of the work the Cyber Reserve undertake is considered secret or top secret so it may never be made public, and the people in the Cyber Reserve are also not publicly identified for the same reason.
One recent achievement we can highlight is how the Cyber Reserve formed a vital part of Defence’s contribution to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. In the wake of COVID-19, numerous applications were developed that allowed people to track their symptoms. It was quickly recognised that it was necessary to combine the information on all of these different apps to allow the NHS to better understand where in the UK the virus was spreading. This led to the development of Project OASIS – a capability designed to coordinate the information and provide it to the NHS – which a Cyber Reserve unit assured working together with other reserve specialist units.
The development of this capability was only achieved so quickly thanks to the efforts of Cyber Reservists working alongside other Defence Regular and Reservist personnel. The impact of their contribution to this development alongside work in cyber training with the Defence Cyber School as well as support to defensive cyber operations cannot be overstated. But the Cyber Reservists themselves will remain understated.
In other words, these brilliant specialists conduct their work knowing that they will never personally receive any public recognition or thanks. Despite this, they give up their evenings, weekends and holidays to protect us and serve their country.
This week is Armed Forces Week, where we recognise everyone in the Defence community who plays a part in protecting the nation. The reserves are a vital part of this community, without which the Armed Forces would be all the poorer.
Even if we do not know their faces, or recognise their names, the brilliant, capable and talented people like those in the Cyber Reserve deserve our thanks and appreciation this Armed Forces Week. So, to those that give their spare time freely to help defend our nation – we salute you.