Michael Fallon: Britain prepared to launch air strikes on cyber attackers
UK forces are ready to hit cyber attackers by “air, land, sea or cyber space” in order to protect major infrastructure, Michael Fallon has warned.
The Defence Secretary said last week's attack on the parliamentary network was a sign of Britain’s “adversaries becoming more diverse, becoming better at what they do, and becoming more adept at using virtual attacks to inflict very real damage”.
Speaking at the Cyber 2017 Chatham House Conference, Mr Fallon said deterrence would be strengthened, while the authorities would “hunt down” those suspected of attacks.
“We’re using our rising budget to invest our £178bn in full spectrum capability, from carriers to Ajax armoured vehicles, fifth generation F35 to the latest UAVs, signalling to potential cyber strikers that the price of an online attack could invite a response from any domain, air, land, sea or cyber space,” he said.
Mr Fallon also revealed that sophisticated cyber technology was being used as an “integral part” of operations against Daesh.
“We now have the skills to expose cyber criminals, to them hunt down and to prosecute them, to respond in kind to any assault at a time of our choosing,” he added.
“Offensive cyber there is already beginning to have a major effect on degrading Daesh’s capabilities.”
The Secretary of State confirmed plans for the UK to use its strength to boost Nato’s efforts against online aggressors.
“Cyber deterrence is obviously stronger when we stand together with our like-minded allies. And that’s why we’re working hard, in particular, to get Nato, the bedrock of our security, to do more to defend effectively online,” he explained.
“But Alliance effectiveness in the virtual world would be immeasurably enhanced if national capabilities were made ready to deploy in support of Nato operations.
“So having honed our own UK pioneering cyber techniques against Daesh in Iraq and Syria, I can confirm today that United Kingdom is ready to become one of the first Nato members to publicly offer such support to NATO operations as and when required”.
The Defence Secretary called for internet users to contribute to a “culture of resilience” towards cyber attacks.
“A stronger password here, a Windows update there, and we would have stood an even better chance of warding off the Parliamentary and Wannacry attacks”.