UK chancellor Philip Hammond has pledged a £1.9bn fund to counter the threat of cyberattacks against critical infrastructure such as air traffic control and power grids amidst growing concern at the vulnerability of key infrastructure.
The cash will be used to ‘strike back’ against malicious foreign governments and criminals by upping the nations cyberdefences and is backed up by an explicit threat to deploy offensive capabilities against hostile hackers.
In this the UK is not alone with the CIA reportedly eager to begin mounting counterstrike operations against Russia.
Addressing a Microsoft conference in London Hammond will raise the risk of wi-fi enabled heating controls, lighting and cameras in the home as well as a shortage of IT experts as key vulnerabilities in our economy. Most recently the so-called Internet of Things was co-opted into conducting attacks on behalf of hackers.
According to The Times the chancellor will say: “Our new strategy . . . will allow us to take even greater steps to defend ourselves in cyberspace and to strike back when we are attacked.”
The intervention comes amidst increasing concern at ‘increasingly aggressive’ moves by Russia to propagate propaganda, espionage, subversion and cyberattacks in the UK and elsewhere, with MI5 tasked with disrupting these activities as far as possible.