Britain and the West are being embroiled in a “value clash” with Russia and China over the rules governing the internet, ministers and spy chiefs warned in the UK’s first national cyber review published since 2016.
Threats to the UK in cyberspace are “evolving and diversifying,” they added, arguing that Britain has to improve its offensive cyber capabilities, and its broader digital skills base, to meet the challenge.
“Cyberspace will become more controversial as state and non-state actors seek a strategic advantage,” the review said, with a particular caveat that powerful autocratic states want to influence internet and technology standards.
“Debates about the rules that govern cyberspace will increasingly become a site of systemic competition between great powers, with a clash of values between countries that want to preserve a system based on open societies and systemic competitors such as China and Russia who are promoting greater state control, ”the report said.
It is the latest in a series of vocal warnings from the British intelligence community about cyber competition between the West and Russia and China, the latest of which was deemed a close potential business partner less than a decade ago when former Prime Minister David Cameron courted President Xi. Jinping.
Last month, MI6 chief Richard Moore said the spy agency had to recruit tech companies to help it stay ahead of both countries in what are seen as strategic areas like artificial intelligence and quantum computing.
British officials are also concerned about the possibility of tampering with surveillance technologies, warning that Chinese law requires companies based in the country to assist in “state intelligence work” if requested. They have also accused both countries of trying to steal the secrets of the Covid-19 vaccine in the early phases of the pandemic.
But there was also a warning that high-level cyber threats could spread beyond Beijing and Moscow, and become “commodities and proliferate in a wider range of states and criminal groups,” an apparent reference to the widespread use of the powerful. Pegasus spyware by a growing range of countries.
In October of this year it was learned, in a ruling by an English court, that the “servants or agents” of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, had, according to the probability, hacked telephones belonging to his ex-wife, Princess Haya, and two of his British divorce lawyers.
The National Cyber Strategy was last developed in 2016 and aims to bring together an analysis of global threats along with strategies to address them, including the creation last year of a National Cyber Force, the first offensive hacking unit formally recognized by the the United Kingdom.
Although the document declined to detail the specific operations carried out by the NCF since its inception, the strategy listed some potential operations, including the disabling of “command and control communications” by terrorist groups and the “degradation of weapons systems. of the adversary “without saying how this could be. done.
The new strategy is supported by a £ 2.6bn investment described earlier in this year’s spending review. The ministers also announced a new “Cyber Explorers” online training platform aimed at teaching young people cyber skills at school.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism