LONDON (Reuters) - The British government said on Monday it is launching a national inquiry into cyber security to assess the extent to which the UK is protected from an ever-increasing tide of attacks worldwide.
The inquiry comes only two days after U.S. intelligence agencies said Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an effort to help U.S president-elect Donald Trump's electoral chances by discrediting Hillary Clinton in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
"Attention has recently focused on the potential exploitation of the cyber domain by other states and associated actors for political purposes," said Margaret Beckett, chair of parliament's joint committee on national security strategy.
"But this is just one source of threat that the government must address," she added, in a statement.
Cyber attacks in the UK have been on the rise, with businesses such as banks and retailers increasingly becoming targets for hackers.
Reported attacks on financial institutions in Britain rose from just five in 2014 to 75 in the year to October 2016, data from Britain's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) show. Last year, retailer Tesco's banking arm suffered an attack which saw some 2.5 million pounds stolen from 9,000 current accounts.
The inquiry will look at issues including the types of cyber threats faced by the UK, the extent of human, financial and technical capital committed to address threats, and the development of offensive cyber capabilities.
The inquiry forms part of the second National Cyber Security Strategy launched in November last year, which has a total budget of 1.9 billion pounds running from 2016 to 2021.
Reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; editing by Stephen Addison