UK discloses cyber attack capability

June 27th, 2009

This week the BBC had a story about the UK’s cyber security programs, UK ‘has cyber attack capability’, with this video interview with Gordon Brown.

The article leads with this surprising discussion of the UK’s offensive capabilities.

“The UK has the ability to launch cyber attacks but does not use it for industrial espionage like some other countries, minister Lord West has said. He refused to be drawn on whether it was used for military purposes.

He told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme the UK faced coordinated Huber attacks “on a regular basis” from other countries including Russia and China. And he confirmed that the British government had approached the Russian and Chinese governments to ask them to stop the attacks. “We have had a dialogue with them in the past and I wouldn’t want to go into what goes on in terms of debate at the moment,” he told the BBC.

Pressed on whether Britain used cyber attacks itself, he said: “We do not go and attack other nations to try and find from them their industrial secrets.” But he added: “I think it would be very silly of any nation not to have an ability to use cyber space for the safety and security of its nation.” Pressed further on Britain’s cyber warfare capabilities, he said: “We have an ability to do things and we have got very good and very talented people who have worked on this.”

The article also quotes Lord West, the UK’s first cyber security minister, as saying that they had recruited “a team of former hackers for its new Cyber Security Operations Centre” at GCHQ.

“They had not employed any “ultra, ultra criminals” but needed the expertise of former “naughty boys”, he added. “You need youngsters who are deep into this stuff… If they have been slightly naughty boys, very often they really enjoy stopping other naughty boys,” he said.