26 Sep UK develops cyber weapons that could take out power grids in enemy states | UK News
The UK has developed offensive cyber weapons that could take out power grids and other pieces of critical infrastructure in an enemy state, a military chief has revealed.
General Sir Patrick Sanders, commander of Strategic Command, said military personnel work closely with the civilian spy agency GCHQ on offensive and defensive cyber operations.
“Let’s be clear, I am not here to tell you that we can win wars from cyberspace (although you can lose them) or indeed that cyber effects can replace ships, tanks or fighter jets,” he said on Friday at a base near Bath that houses many of the military’s cyber specialists.
“But we can make it easier.”
He said “national offensive cyber capabilities… can degrade, disrupt and even destroy critical capabilities and infrastructure of those who would do us harm, ranging from strategic to tactical targets”.
The general described cyber attacks against British targets as the modern-day equivalent of the Blitz, with 60 serious attempts to target the armed forces and other parts of UK defence every day.
While saying the UK was not at war in cyber space, he drew an analogy between cyber threats and the clashes between German and British aircraft during the Battle of Britain, 80 years ago.
“If this was an air war, it would be the Blitz and this is the fight and control centre at Bentley Priory,” he said, likening MOD Corsham, where he was speaking, to Headquarters Fighter Command during World War Two.
The high-security facility houses rows of computers manned by military and civilian cyber specialists and tracks millions of “cyber events” every year. Most of them are dealt with automatically, but General Sanders said about 1,800 per month, or 60 per day, are the most serious and require human intervention.
They could include attempts by hostile foreign states to target military equipment, infrastructure or personnel.
“Unlike the Blitz, there’s no physical destruction, though there could be… and so thankfully it’s bloodless,” General Sanders said.
“But the intensity and the frequency of the attacks are on the same scale and if we let too many so-called bombers and their payloads through then it will sow the seeds of defeat. Not immediately, but slowly, insidiously, corrosively and inevitably.
“This means that defending ourselves in cyber space is at least as important as the Quick Ready Alert Typhoons from the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Ready Escort and Submarines in the Royal Navy. And if anything, even more so, because cyber space is the most active domain, where adversaries and allies will meet over the next decade.”
Strategic Command covers a range of other areas as well as cyber, including special forces, Defence Intelligence, satellites and digital technology, which is used across the army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
It is a much younger command than the three services, but is becoming increasingly important because of the focus on cyber, space and autonomous technology.