British chancellor George Osborne warns that ISIS could launch cyber attacks on power stations, the National Grid and hospitals, as he announced his commitment to spending an additional £1.9 billion on cybersecurity.
He warned that ISIS seeks to hack key UK infrastructure in an attempt to kill people.
Osborne’s announcement comes as he prepares to unveil new cuts to welfare and public services.
RT reports: In a speech at GCHQ Cheltenham on Tuesday, Osborne announced Britain will double its cybersecurity budget by 2020, and will create a ‘National Cyber Centre’ to respond to major attacks on Britain.
The chancellor said the attacks on Paris underline the need for Britain to improve its defenses against cyberattacks.
“ISIL [Islamic State or IS, also formerly ISIS] are already using the internet for hideous propaganda purposes; for radicalization, for operational planning too,” he told an audience at the security service headquarters.
“They have not been able to use it to kill people yet by attacking our infrastructure through cyberattacks. But we know they want it and are doing their best to build it.”
Osborne announced the injection of cash into the security system as he prepares to unveil a fresh round of cuts on welfare and public services next week as he attempts to push Britain back into a budget surplus.
“It is right that we choose to invest in our cyber defenses even at a time when we must cut other budgets,” he said.
“The internet represents a critical axis of potential vulnerability.”
Osborne said the decision to bolster cybersecurity spending had been made before the Paris attacks on Friday.
“The stakes could hardly be higher – if our electricity supply, or our air traffic control, or our hospitals were successfully attacked online, the impact could be measured not just in terms of economic damage but of lives lost.”
The bolstered cybersecurity plans also include cooperation with internet service providers to fend off attacks and block malware, as well as a new institute to train more coders.
Osborne’s pledge comes after Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Monday the UK’s intelligence staff would be increased by 15 percent.