Britain Goes to War, a Cyber One for Now

In recent months, it has become evident to which extent the latest IT trends have been both weaponized and compromised. As a constant stream of reports on new viruses, worms and loopholes is flooding the media, hospitals and major corporations decide to pull the plug on the Internet.

However, what is never being mentioned in the media reports is the signs that the US National Security Agency (NSA) and its British equivalent GCHQ have managed to infiltrate all sorts of networks, both public and private ones, as it’s been pointed out by Süddeutsche Zeitung. One should remain mindful of the fact that the Internet was an American invention, and as Facebook, Google and Apple continue dominating its commercial aspects, both the NSA and GCHQ are trying to both monitor and control it. Those efforts are a double-edged sword, as along with attempts to ensure cyber security of the government bodies that are tasked with protecting, they are essentially honing skills required to conduct an all-out cyberwar.

According to the Times, Britain has developed sophisticated cyberweapons capable of crippling a hostile state. This media source would also add that GCHQ, the intelligence body based in Cheltenham, was developing a “full spectrum” of weapons that are equally potent in crippling missile guidance and control systems of a potential enemy or infecting cell phones in a particular region to hijack all sorts of information stored on them before wiping them off clear.

Further still, UK’s air marshal, Phil Osborn has recently demanded London to be much more aggressive and take risks in his speech to the Royal United Services Institute, adding that the sitting British government must be prepared to launch cyberattacks against Moscow at any given moment. This military official described today’s world as more dangerous, uncertain and unpredictable, while emphasizing the key role cyber technology plays in the multifaceted layers of modern warfare. According to Osborn, without a considerable change, London risks quickly falling behind in today’s and tomorrow’s confrontation, adding that such a confrontation could have nationally crippling effects in minutes and hours.

However, in order to justify its stance, London needs some sort of pretext to carry on developing cyberweapons and predictably enough it relies heavily on its anti-Russian rhetorics that is getting stale at this point. One can easily come across a number of “horror stories” about alleged Russia’s meddling in the British cyberspace. To be more specific, last March, British media sources started circulating reports that cited an unnamed British intelligence official that named the targets that Russia has allegedly chose as a target for its cyberattacks. Among them is the Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing and nuclear decommissioning site, a complex of government offices in central London known as Whitehall, along with local hospitals and the British National Grid.

An important role in fomenting the Russophobic hysteria that has been dominating the British media space for months was assigned to the so-called Salisbury incident. As a matter of fact, the whole debacle looks as yet another false-flag attack, as London, in spite of the repeated calls made by Moscow, Berlin and a number of other players to submit the evidence that would implicate Moscow in this incident to the international community, remains reluctant to do so.

As the Times revealed last March, citing a high-ranking source in the May cabinet, an attack with the use of malicious software against Russia looks like the mot probable course of actions for London in the immediate future.

However, GCHQ is not just busy developing all sorts of malicious software but it’s also selling those to other states for them to test latest British viruses or maybe to provide London with plausible deniability in case a victim state manages to track back a cyberattack to its original source. As it’s been revealed by the British PM, Lloyd Russell-Moyle London has approved sales of the so-called surveillance software to Turkmenistan. It has also been stated by him that this software allow London’s clients to wiretap smartphones and intercept email messages. Similar software has already been sold to such states as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Brunei, Turkey, Bahrain. Legally, British companies have no right to provide surveillance capabilities to those states that have been subjecting their citizens to suppression or discrimination. However, in his article Lloyd Russell-Moyle describes Turkmenistan as the next closest thing to to a textbook example of an authoritarian dictatorship.

It seems that British authorities are in a desperate need of a small victorious war and they perceive their plan of using cyberweapons against Russia as a chance to get just that. However, even if London manages to succeed in its doubtful quest this will still not address the most pressing challenges of this state, like the disastrous Brexit negotiations.

Today, intelligence agencies and armies of hackers they hire present a very potent threat to critical elements of civic infrastructures such as nuclear reactors and conventional power plants. So it’s only a matter of time before people start losing their lives to cyber weapons. Even the director of GCHQ, Robert Peter Hannigan that is tasked with overseeing the preparations for Her Majesty’s small victorious cyberwar, recognizes that we are unable to calculate all the possible consequences of one’s use of cyberweapons on the national level. Most recently, in his interview for the Wired he pointed out that the world needs to come up with something like arms control for cyberspace, an international agreement that could prevent cuber-hostilities from taking place.

But how do these statements of Hannigan relate to the saber-rattling of the sitting British officials that are obsessed with the idea to make Britain great again through the potentially devastating use of cyberweapons?