Britain said on Wednesday it would strengthen its cybersecurity laws to better protect essential services like water, energy and transport by bringing outsourced information technology services under the scope of existing regulations.

"The services we rely on for healthcare, water, energy and computing must not be brought to a standstill by criminals and hostile states," cyber minister Julia Lopez said.

The government said it would update 2018 regulations which were designed to make sure companies providing critical services improved their cyber security.

Citing cyber attacks like 'CloudHopper', in which hackers targeted big tech companies , Britain's digital department said the rules needed to be updated to cover companies that provide services such as security monitoring and digital billing.

The Digital Media Culture and Sport department said the regulatory changes would be made as soon as parliamentary time allowed and would apply to "critical service providers, like energy companies and the NHS, as well as important digital services like providers of cloud computing and online search engines." (Reporting by William James, Editing by Paul Sandle)