The world's largest arms vendors are moving into the cybersecurity sector as austerity measures hit sales of traditional weapons, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said today.
Sales by the 100 largest arms producing companies fell by 5 per cent to $410 billion (£265bn) in 2011, Sipri said in its annual review of the industry.
But they're still up 51 per cent on 2002 levels.
The drop was mainly due to austerity measures and the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Sweden-based group said, but pointed out that cybersecurity has remained a privileged spending area.
"Cybersecurity has become a top national security issue and there has been a lot of discussion about that over the last years," cybersecurity expert Vincent Boulanin said.
"Countries are willing to gear up to face potential cyberthreats from other countries or private actors."
Mr Boulanin said arms dealers are taking advantage of these developments to expand into new fields and are acquiring smaller companies to get hold of technical expertise.
Sipri also said US-based Lockheed Martin remained the biggest arms vendor in 2011, with arms sales of $36.27bn (£23.44bn), while Boeing overtook Britain's BAE Systems as the second largest weapons merchant.
Official inflation figures understate the real extent of rising costs, but even the government's own CPI scheme lays bare the ongoing misery for working people and those dependent on benefits.
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