A "cyber cell" of British and American intelligence and security agents is being created to defeat online attacks in an “unprecedented” deal to be struck by David Cameron and Barack Obama in talks at the White House today.
A rolling programme of war games will be staged across the Atlantic starting with attacks on the London's financial district and Wall Street to test their resilience.
It comes as a report by UK intelligence agency GCHQ warns the computer networks of British companies are under attack on a daily basis by hackers, criminal gangs, commercial rivals and foreign intelligence services.
President Obama is toughening up the American response in the wake of the embarrassing and damaging North Korean hack on Sony Pictures and the infiltration of Pentagon Twitter and YouTube sites.
Ahead of a meeting in the Oval Office, Mr Cameron said: “Just as we have worked with our closest ally, the US, to protect our people and our countries from traditional threats, so we must work together to defend ourselves from new threats like cyber attacks.
“This is an evolving threat which poses a real risk to our businesses and that’s why we’re taking our cooperation with the US to an unprecedented level. This is about pooling our effort so we stay one step ahead of those who seek to attack us.
“The joint exercises and training of our next generation of cyber experts will help to ensure that we have the capability we need to protect critical sectors like our energy, transport and financial infrastructure from emerging threats.”
Under the plans UK intelligence agencies GCHQ and MI5 will join forces with NSA and FBI to turn an American cyber cell into a transatlantic operation, to improve information sharing about threats.
Simulated attacks will be carried out to test systems, with institutions in the financial sector, including the Bank of England and a number of commercial banks being put to the test later this year.
A new generation of cyber agents will be trained up and a new Fulbright Cyber Security Award created to allow the most talented researchers to carry out research placements for up to six months.