UK is developing a cyber-weapons programme: report

Security

by CBR Staff Writer| 31 May 2011

Armed forces minister Nick Harvey acknowledges that the country is working on a cyber-weapons programme with offensive capabilities

The UK is reportedly developing a cyber-attack programme with a range of offensive capabilities.

According to the Guardian, the cyber-weapons programme is aimed to make a shift from cyber defences to cyber offences so that the government can tackle increasing threats to national security from cyber attacks.

In an acknowledgement of the development, armed forces minister Nick Harvey told the Guardian that "action in cyberspace will form part of the future battlefield."

Harvey added that the cyber-weapons programme will be "an integral part of the country's armoury."

"We need a toolbox of capabilities and that's what we are currently developing," he said.

He maintained that cyber-weapons would not replace traditional weapons, but they would handled and deployed in the same way as special forces.

"The circumstances and manner in which we would use them are broadly analogous to what we would do in any other domain."

He added, "Cyber is a new domain but the rules and norms, the logic and the standards that operate in any other domain ... translate across into cyberspace.

"I don't think that the existence of a new domain will, in itself, make us any more offensive than we are in any other domain. The legal conventions within which we operate are quite mature and well established."

Meanwhile the Guardian has also reported that the Stuxnet virus attack on Iran's nuclear programme has considerably influenced the UK government's plan to develop its own cyber-weapons programme.

The coalition government made cyber-security a tier one priority and allocated £650m to upgrade cyber-defence. As part of the strategic defence and security review, a new infrastructure across government is being built.

Intelligence specialist Neil Thompson is heading the Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance. Reportedly, Thompson works closely with his US counterpart Howard Schmidt.

 

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