The UK and US are about to launch cyber attacks on each other. But don’t worry: there’ll actually be staged exercises to test out defences against hackers as online global threats rise, the BBC says. The move has been hailed an “unprecedented” arrangement between the allies.
Cyber attacks will be carried out by the countries’ intelligence services, the MI5 and the FBI.
First up is the financial sector: The Bank of England and commercial banks in the City and Wall Street are going to be targeted to see how well businesses can cope with hacking dangers. Transport services will also be hit in the digital battles.
The move, announced today, will “test critical national infrastructure” and is in direct response to recent attacks on Sony Pictures and the US military’s Central Command Twitter feed, the BBC explains.
UK prime minister David Cameron announced the project with US president Barack Obama during a two-day visit this week. As well as practicing attacks, the nations want to improve data flow to better determine what’s coming in and out — and what information is safe.
Cameron specifically referenced the alleged attack by North Korea on Sony before the talks, AFP reports. Obama and Cameron met for dinner yesterday and were set to hold meetings on Friday.
The prime minister posted a video on his Twitter account and says: “I think it really matters that Britain and America properly cooperate and work together.”
“We’ll be making some important announcements about how we keep our businesses and our people safe from these new cyber threats,” he adds.
As well as cyber war games, money is also being put aside to train the next generation of “cyber agents”, it’s been reported. Mr Obama says there is an “urgent and growing danger” and has also proposed to strengthen laws involving hacking.
Cameron, meanwhile, also wants to look at legislation involving cyber security and analysis. In what’s called a “snooper’s charter” by critics, his government is reviving plans to ban encryption, which could see apps such as WhatsApp and iMessage — different to regular messaging — made unavailable.
Chris Boyd, an intelligence analyst at cyber security firm Malwarebytes, tells Business Insider that “the past year has summoned in a new era in terms of cyber-war and data breaches.”
The hacking of critical infrastructure, companies and government targets was once considered taboo and too technically difficult for nation states and criminal groups. This is now no longer the case.
Today’s advanced attacks are carried out by creative, skilled teams who are not burdened by the limitations of Government bureaucracy, something which needs to be replicated for such an initiative to flourish.