UK’s GCHQ carried out a major cyber offensive against ISIS

GCHQ’s Jeremy Fleming has used his first public speech as director to reveal the intelligence agency carried out a major cyber offensive against ISIS.

"The outcomes of these operations are wide-ranging," he told the Cyber UK conference in Manchester. "In 2017 there were times when Daesh found it almost impossible to spread their hate online, to use their normal channels to spread their rhetoric, or trust their publications."

Beyond causing disruption to the group’s spread of propaganda, GCHQ was also able to destroy equipment and networks. The offensive marks the first cyber attack the UK has announced publicly to have carried out against an adversary in a military campaign.

It looks like our expertise on Russia will be in increasing demand

Fleming’s remarks will be seen as designed to show the importance of intelligence agencies to have offensive capabilities, as well as defensive, and to be able to take action where necessary.

Russia’s use of cyber means to compromise and disrupt Western systems and democratic processes was not left unaddressed. Fleming says the state carries out ‘unacceptable cyber-behaviour’ towards other countries.

He points towards Sergei and Yulia Skripal’s brazen poisoning in Salisbury, alleged to have been ordered by the Kremlin, as showing "how reckless Russia is prepared to be".

"The robust response from the UK and from the international community shows the Kremlin that illegal acts have consequences. And it looks like our expertise on Russia will be in increasing demand," he said.

The comments were made as a new GCHQ headquarters is being opened in Manchester.

What are your thoughts on GCHQ’s cyber offensive announcement? Let us know in the comments.

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