As cyber-attacks have recently grown in number and severity worldwide, Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced that if the UK is hit by such an attack that the country will “strike back” against its attackers in order to protect its citizens, businesses and the government.
The chancellor has responded to the rise in cyber-attacks by announcing a new £1.9 billion strategy aimed at increasing the country's defences against online threats, while at the same time enabling it to take a more aggressive role in fighting back against anyone that threatens the country through the use of such attacks.
Government ministers have not provided details regarding which countries currently pose a threat to the UK, but recent events related to Hilary Clinton's Presidential campaign being hacked alongside warnings from the head of MI5, give credibility to the notion that Russia could be using cyber-attacks as a means of furthering its interests.
Andrew Parker, director general of the Security Service, noted that currently Russia “is using its whole range of state organs and powers to push its foreign policy abroad in increasingly aggressive ways – including propaganda, espionage, subversion and cyber attacks.”
The Internet of Things (IoT) and especially connected devices were also listed as a possible threat, seeing as they are often left unsecured and can be utilised by hackers to carry out attacks as was the case in the recent attack that targeted the DNS service provider Dyn.
Cabinet Officer minister Ben Gummer highlighted the way in which cyber-attacks have become mainstream, saying: “No longer the stuff of spy thrillers and action movies, cyber attacks are a reality and they are happening now. Our adversaries are varied – organised criminal groups, 'hactivists', untrained teenagers and foreign states.
“The first duty of the government is to keep the nation safe. Any modern state cannot remain secure and prosperous without security itself in cyberspace. That is why we are taking the decisive action needed to protect our country, our economy and our citizens. We are proud that the UK leads the world in cyber security.”
The fact the UK has decided to strengthen its measures to deal with cyber-attacks will hopefully lead other countries to follow suit as their potential threat has increased significantly in a more connected world.
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