The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) is taking steps to address the growth in cyber attacks after it entered into a new partnership with nine contractors aimed at tightening Internet security across the defense industry.

The BBC reports that the Defence Cyber Protection Partnership aims to beef up anti-hacking security within the top defense companies in the country. It will also help employ higher levels of protection among smaller firms which handle sensitive information and details. The venture is being positioned as a model that other industries can replicate to shore up their security.

The BBC report says that GCHQ — the UK’s intelligence service — claims that around 70 “sophisticated” hacking programs attack the British government and companies in the country each month. Of that figure, around 15 are said to be against defense firms, highlighting the need for additional vigilance and stronger security systems.

The UK is far from alone in being the target of hackers seeking access to financial details, blueprints and other private company information. The US Chamber had its system accessed last year, reportedly by Chinese hackers, while Japan’s government was hit by a trojan horse attack in 2011 and South Korea’s President’s website was knocked out last month by what appeared to be hackers from the Anonymous group.

Back in 2011, Maj Gen Shaw, who heads up the MoDs cyber security program, told the Daily Telegraph that “the biggest threat to [the] country by cyber is not military, it is economic”.

Shaw recounted one example which saw a company in the UK go bust after the blueprint for a revolutionary wind turbine blade it designed was obtained by hackers who went on to develop a cheaper version.

While the MoD’s move is a positive, it is somewhat ironic that a US ally is beefing up cyber security systems given the exposure of the US government’s PRISM program and allegations of its cyber espionage activities worldwide.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden raised suspicions that the US government is among those engaged in unlawful hacking activities across the world. Snowden alleges that the agency hacks into Chinese mobile operators and spied on attendees of G20 summit meetings in London in 2009 — that’s in addition to claims that it has collected data on US and overseas Internet users.

Headline image via Shutterstock