The British Defence Secretary has warned that the UK is ready to use force to respond to hackers.
Michael Fallon said Britain has a ‘full spectrum’ of retaliation available to counter cyber attacks following the recent assault on the Houses of Parliament network.
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Sir Michael Fallon sent out a tough message to hackers in the wake of a ‘sustained and determined’ assault on the parliamentary network.
He said the UK had the ability to respond to online attacks ‘from any domain – air, land, sea or cyber’.
Sir Michael also highlighted the success of the UK’s ability to carry out cyber attacks against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and offered similar British support to future Nato operations.
Sir Michael said the UK was investing in ‘full spectrum capabilities’ – ranging from the new aircraft carriers to offensive online capabilities.
This was ‘signalling to potential cyber strikers that the price of an online attack could invite a response from any domain – air, land, sea or cyberspace’.
‘When it comes to the latter, we are making sure that offensive cyber is an integral part of our arsenal,’ he said. ‘We now have the skills to expose cyber criminals, to hunt them down and to prosecute them. To respond in kind to any assault at a time of our choosing.’
In a speech at the Chatham House foreign affairs think tank, Sir Michael said: ‘Last Friday we saw the UK hit by yet another cyber attack, this time directed against our parliamentary IT systems.
‘Investigations so far have found that the hackers were attempting to carry out a sustained and determined attack on all parliamentary user accounts in an attempt to identify weak passwords to gain access to users’ emails.’
Asked about the sort of action that could be taken against the hackers behind the attack on parliament, Sir Michael said where perpetrators can be identified then ‘as far as we can’ they should be prosecuted.
‘We have no evidence yet as to who was behind the attack on Parliament, it is too early to speculate what kind of actor was involved,’ he said.
‘When we know, we have got to consider how to respond.’
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