Britain is devoting more energy to understanding and developing “weaponry” for cyber warfare than any other military area, armed forces chief General David Richards says. “It’s very genuinely a huge priority for us,” Richards said.
“Along with like-minded nations in NATO for example, we are more actively expanding our understanding and weaponry in this area than in any other area,” he told an audience during questions that followed his first public speech since taking over as Chief of the Defence Staff.
Britain announced last month it would spend an extra 650 million pounds on cyber security after a new National Security Strategy highlighted the area as one of the top threats the country faced.
The issue came to the prominence in September when security experts suggested that the Stuxnet computer worm that attacks a widely used industrial system could have been created by a state to attack nuclear facilities in Iran.
Last month the head of Britain’s communications spy agency also warned that countries were already using cyber techniques to attack each other. “I often say to people, even today you might take out a country’s infrastructure by bombing the hell out of it. Within no time at all you’ll do it through cyber attack,” Richards said. “It’s a huge area of risk.” Richards also said that NATO’s timetable for handing over responsibility for security in Afghanistan to Afghan forces in 2014 and ending combat operations by the following year was “very achievable.”
“This has not been plucked from thin air,” he said, adding that Mullah Mohammad Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, did not like the message that the withdrawal would not be sooner.
“Four years, given the punishment that they are receiving and the very steady growth in the ANSF (Afghan National Security Force), is not something they are obviously very happy about,” he said. “We can be cautiously optimistic about hitting that timeline.”