The United Kingdom is developing offensive cyberweapons to fend off foreign spies, cybercriminals, Islamist extremists and other adversaries, according to finance minister George Osborne. The U.K. is one of many countries known to deploy advanced cyberweapons, but it became one of the few to admit it when Osborne spoke at a Tuesday meeting, days after a terrorist attack killed 129 in Paris.
“We need to establish deterrents in cyberspace,” Osborne said during a speech at the Government Communication Headquarters building in Southern England, as quoted by Reuters. “We need to not just defend ourselves against attacks but rather dissuade people and states from targeting us in the first place...We are building our own offensive cyber capability.”
Osborne claimed the GCHQ, the British equivalent to the U.S. National Security Agency, is currently monitoring 450 cyberthreats against companies operating in the U.K. The British government is expected to hire another 1,900 spies to foil possible terrorist plots. It's all part of a £1.9 billion ($2,892,104,000) investment over the next five years to protect national digital interests.
“ISIL are already using the Internet for hideous propaganda purposes; for radicalization, for operational planning, too,” Osborne said. “They have not been able to use it to kill people yet by attacking our infrastructure through cyberattack. They do not yet have that capability. But we know they want it, and are doing their best to build it.”