UK to create 2,000-strong cyber force to tackle Russia threat

By Deborah Haynes, foreign affairs editor
Britain is significantly increasing its ability to wage war in cyberspace with the creation of a new offensive cyber force of up to 2,000 personnel, Sky News understands.
The plan by the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ comes amid a growing cyber threat from Russia and after the UK used cyber weapons for the first time to fight Islamic State.The new force - expected to be announced soon - would represent a near four-fold increase in manpower focused on offensive cyber operations.Made up of GCHQ officials, military personnel and contractors, it looks set to receive more than €250m in funding, according to one source.A second source said that the figure would likely be higher.General Sir Richard Barrons, a former commander of Joint Forces Command, which is responsible for military cyber, said enhancing the UK's ability to launch cyber attacks is paramount at a time when countries such as Russia are already on the offensive."By adopting offensive cyber techniques in the UK we are levelling the playing field and providing new means of both deterring and punishing states that wish to do us harm," he said.
UK to create 2,000-strong cyber force to tackle Russia threat

General Sir Richard Barrons: We are levelling the playing field
The US-led campaign against IS in Iraq and Syria demonstrates the growing importance of cyber warfare in modern-day conflict.Interviews with several former and serving security and military officers reveal::: David Cameron, as prime minister, instructed his spy agencies and the armed forces at the start of 2016 to go after the IS media machine behind a series of gruesome online beheading videos of hostages, slick online magazines and a huge volume of other propaganda used to draw new recruits and incite violence.:: Britain, the United States and allies launched a series of secret cyber operations, including one called Glowing Symphony. They used malware to block access to data, placed fake stories to create confusion and deleted large volumes of material. IS financing was also targeted.:: GCHQ worked with special forces to deploy cyber attacks from laptops and handheld devices against IS commanders in Iraq and Syria to jam their ability to communicate electronically and to spoof them into running into real-world traps by feeding false instructions over the internet. "It was very effective," a source said.Details of the UK's ongoing cyber mission against IS - conducted in close coordination with the United States, Australia and other members of the "five eyes" intelligence community - are highly classified.Sky News has agreed not to mention certain operations or techniques because of the sensitivities.In a rare public acknowledgement, Jeremy Fleming, the director of GCHQ, spoke about the impact his agency and the MoD were having against the terrorist group earlier this year.
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