Jeremy Fleming, the director of GCHQ, announced that Britain carried out its first major cyber-attack in 2017 with the target being Islamic State.
The attack was reportedly successful in disrupting Islamic State’s communications and propaganda infrastructure Fleming told a cybersecurity conference in Manchester.
“For GCHQ, this expansion of the terror threat means more investment in our people and our capabilities. Closer working with other CT partners here and overseas and greater sharing of our information to improve the threat radar. But it’s also brought a sharper focus on fighting Daesh online.
For well over a decade, starting in the conflict in Afghanistan, GCHQ has pioneered the development and use of offensive cyber techniques. And by that I mean taking action online that has direct real world impact.
In recent years, we’ve worked closely with the Ministry of Defence and key allies to grow these capabilities at pace.
Much of this is too sensitive to talk about, but I can tell you that GCHQ, in partnership with the Ministry of Defence, has conducted a major offensive cyber campaign against Daesh. These operations have made a significant contribution to coalition efforts to suppress Daesh propaganda, hindered their ability to coordinate attacks, and protected coalition forces on the battlefield. 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.
Did it work? I think it did.
The outcomes of these operations are wide ranging. We may look to deny service, disrupt a specific on-line activity, deter an individual or a group, or perhaps even destroy equipment and networks. In 2017 there were times when Daesh found it almost impossible to spread their hate online, to use their normal channels to spread their rhetoric, or trust their publications. Of course, the job is never done – they will.”
Read the full transcript here.