British 'Elite Cyber Offensive Force' to Fight IS on the Digital Beaches

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Yesterday, Anonymous declared digital war on ISIS. Now, Britain seems to be joining the fight, with an elite cyber offensive force that plans to strike Islamic State (IS) fighters.

Reuters reports that the chancellor George Osborne wants the country to “strike at Islamic State fighters, hackers and hostile powers” with plans to “bolster spending on cyber defences, simplify its state cyber structures and build its own offensive cyber capability to attack adversaries”.

The news comes in response to British intelligence that suggested IS is developing ways of digitally attacking UK hospitals, power networks and air traffic control systems, according to Osborne. Speaking to staff at Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) he explained:

“We will defend ourselves. But we will also take the fight to [ISIS]... When we talk about tackling [ISIS], that means tackling their cyber threat as well as their guns, bombs and knives... They have not been able to use it to kill people yet by attacking our infrastructure through cyber attack. But we know they want it and are doing their best to build it.”

Britain’s attempts to defeat any digital terrorist threats will be shared between GCHQ and the military, with a doubling of spending to £1.9 billion on cyber security between now and 2020. Osborne says that it will target hackers, criminal gangs, militant groups and hostile powers.

It’s not clear how quickly such resources can be mobilised. In the meantime, Anonymous has pledged to “unleash waves of attacks on ISIS.” [Reuters]

Image by Brian Klug under Creative Commons licence

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