Director of GCHQ Jeremy Fleming has warned that the UK can counter Russian cyber capabilities in the same way it fought Islamic State online capabilities.
Regarding experience gained from a the first major attack against Islamic State, Fleming said:
“But cyber is only one part of the wider international response. This is the first time the UK has systematically and persistently degraded an adversary’s online efforts as part of a wider military campaign.”
Regarding Russia, he said:
“Alongside these new dangers, we must not and have not forgotten the old foes. For decades, we have collected intelligence on Russian state capabilities, on their intent and on their posture. And for over twenty years, we’ve monitored and countered the growing cyber threat they pose to the UK and our allies.
This has never gone away. But nevertheless, recent events are particularly stark and shocking. You’ve heard it said, and I’ll repeat, the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, was the first time a nerve agent has been deployed in Europe since the Second World War. That’s sobering. It demonstrates how reckless Russia is prepared to be. How little the Kremlin cares for the international rules-based order. How comfortable they are at putting ordinary lives at risk. The robust response from the UK and from the international community shows the Kremlin that illegal acts have consequences. And it looks like our expertise on Russia will be in increasing demand. We’ll continue to expose Russia’s unacceptable cyber behaviour, so they’re held accountable for what they do, and to help Government and industry protect themselves.
The UK will continue to respond to malicious cyber activity in conjunction with international partners such as the United States. We will attribute where we can.
And whilst we face an emboldened Russia, we also see the tectonic plates in the Middle East moving. We see Iran and its proxies meddling throughout the region. The use of Chemical Weapons in Syria. We’re watching the dispersal of Daesh fighters. Serious Crime Gangs smuggling people from Eastern Europe and Northern Africa. I know I’ve painted a dark picture with that summary. Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom. The last 50 years has seen huge progress in the eradication of disease, the spread of knowledge and freedom, and the prevention of conflict. The last decade has witnessed technology transform the way we live. There’s much, much more to come.
Even so, I think we can all appreciate the current threat landscape is both difficult and fast moving.”
Read the full transcript here.