Tuesday 12 December 2017

UK could fight cyber war with Russia, says defence chief

British defence secretary Michael Fallon. Photo: Reuters
British defence secretary Michael Fallon. Photo: Reuters

Ben Farmer in London

Britain could carry out offensive cyber attacks to tackle hi-tech Russian subversion, the UK defence secretary has suggested.

Michael Fallon said the UK and its Nato allies must now compete on the cyber battlefield as much as they do in conventional air, land and sea warfare.

Britain's adversaries must know they face a price for using cyber weapons, Mr Fallon warned in a speech describing how to cope with an increasingly aggressive Russia. He said Britain was doubling its investment on defensive and offensive cyber warfare to £1.9bn (€2.2bn).

The Kremlin was also responsible for creating a post-truth age by "weaponising misinformation" in a propaganda blitz of lies, he said. Mr Fallon's speech came after Moscow has been linked to a string of high profile cyber attacks across Europe and America.

In April 2015, the French television channel TV5 Monde was taken off air, in an attack French investigators suggested was masterminded by the Kremlin.

Months later the Germany parliament's network was shut down in an attack which Germany's domestic intelligence agency said was steered by the Russian state.

But Mr Fallon warned there had been a "step change" in 2016 as attacks mounted. US intelligence services have accused Russia of using hacking attacks and propaganda to influence the US election campaign in Donald Trump's favour and to undermine confidence in American democracy.

Russia was obviously "testing" the West to weaken Nato and destabilise countries, he said.


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