UK government 'planning to launch Stuxnet-like attacks' against hostile states

UK government 'planning to launch Stuxnet-like attacks' against hostile states

Summary: The UK's cyber-security strategy includes "proactive" tactics and "plans to deliver military effects" in order to authorise the use of launching Stuxnet-like state-targeted malware.

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The UK government's cyber-security plan, while includes measures to protect the UK's critical national infrastructure and threats from hostile states and intelligence services, harbours offensive capabilities to strike back at those who attack the UK's networks.

In keeping with its allies, including the United States and Israel, long believed to have been one of the driving forces behind the Iranian-bound Stuxnet worm, the UK could soon be following suit.

(Previously unreleased image of Global Operations Security Control Centre -- Source: Sky)

Worded albeit vaguely in Friday's released cyber-security strategy -- which also includes plans to restrict the access of cyber-criminals to the web, and allow leading private businesses to access state-secret technology to fend off network intrusions -- the strategy points to assaulting capabilities, sources speaking to the Telegraph confirmed.

The cyber-security strategy will allow the creation of a "joint cyber unit" based at a military facility near Corsham, Wiltshire, to "develop and use a range of new techniques, including proactive measures to disrupt threats to our information security".

GCHQ, the UK's third intelligence service charged with protecting the UK's critical national infrastructure, will also play a part to "develop new tactics".

Detailed on page 26:

4.7 In keeping with the NATO Strategic Concept, and with the agreement of the National Security Council, the NCSP is investing to ensure we take a more proactive approach to tackling cyber threats and exploiting the cyber environment for our own national security needs.

4.9: As part of this we are creating a new Defence Cyber Operations Group to bring together cyber capabilities from across defence. The group will include a Joint Cyber Unit hosted by GCHQ at Cheltenham whose role will be to develop new tactics, techniques and plans to deliver military effects, including enhanced security, through operations in cyberspace.

While offensive action could include directed malware attacks that could target specific nuclear operations or programmes in rogue states, it could include seemingly low-level disruption tactics.

Earlier this year, a Whitehall source speaking to a British national newspaper, said that GCHQ in conjunction with British foreign intelligence service the SIS (MI6) disrupted an online al-Qaeda propaganda 'magazine', by replacing a bomb-making guide with a recipe for non-exploding cupcakes.

Though Russia and China were not named in the cyber-security strategy, Baroness Neville-Jones, the UK's former security minister, previously named the two countries as two of the "worst culprits" in cyber-attacks on the UK's networks.

2.5: Some of the most sophisticated threats to the UK in cyberspace come from other states which seek to conduct espionage with the aim of spying on or compromising our government, military, industrial and economic assets, as well as monitoring opponents of their own regimes.

Unveiling the cyber-security strategy on Friday, UK prime minister David Cameron said: "While the internet is undoubtedly a force for social and political good -- as well as crucial to the growth of our economy -- we need to protect against the threats to our security".

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Topics: Government US, Government, Security

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12 comments
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  • RE: UK government 'planning to launch Stuxnet-like attacks' against hostile states

    Getting crazier.
    MoeFugger
  • US, Israel, UK expect your own medicine back

    Since the US, Israel, UK have gloated in their use, I expect no, complaining and lies when they get attacked. It's open slather now.
    root12
    • RE: UK government 'planning to launch Stuxnet-like attacks' against hostile states

      @root12 Did you miss this? --"Though Russia and China were not named in the cyber-security strategy, Baroness Neville-Jones, the UK???s former security minister, previously named the two countries as two of the ???worst culprits??? in cyber-attacks on the UK???s networks."-- Others have been attacking the UK and US for years. You're complaining if they hit back?
      Bill4
      • RE: UK government 'planning to launch Stuxnet-like attacks' against hostile states

        @Bill4 blame blame blame. I guess I have a problem when the US government stands up and points a finger at China/Iran/NKorea/Whomever. I take comfort in knowing that when you point at someone, there are four fingers pointing back at the 'pointer'.
        Bradish@...
  • RE: UK government 'planning to launch Stuxnet-like attacks' against hostile states

    Their first order of business should be to get rid of those Win2K boxes sitting on their desktops.
    Return_of_the_jedi
    • RE: UK government 'planning to launch Stuxnet-like attacks' against hostile states

      @Return_of_the_jedi I think they're running XP.
      zwhittaker
    • RE: UK government 'planning to launch Stuxnet-like attacks' against hostile states

      @Return_of_the_jedi
      I'm sure the Baha Mousa thing is still important in the UK, but the news screen in the upper right corner could easily date the "previously unreleased photograph" as being before 2006. XP would be appropriate in that case.
      Bill4
      • RE: UK government 'planning to launch Stuxnet-like attacks' against hostile states

        @Bill4 The image was from late Sept. 2011, two months ago. Hope this helps.
        zwhittaker
  • Stuxnet only infected Windows, if it didn't find Windows, it exited.

    It needed Windows to function and used 4 zero-day vulnerabilities (a record) for any malware.

    Reference page 16:

    http://www.symantec.com/content/en/us/enterprise/media/security_response/whitepapers/w32_stuxnet_dossier.pdf
    Joe.Smetona
    • The target systems ran Windows

      @ Joe.Smetona<br><br>The target of Stuxnet was a very specific set of Siemens Scada systems, which run Windows. Infecting irrelevant systems running other operating systems would have provided no benefit, but would have increased the complexity of the worm and probability of detection.<br><br>If you think other operating systems are more secure than Windows, you're simply ill informed. As Charlie Miller has pointed out, Mac OS and Linux are at least as easy to hack as Windows, and probably easier.
      WilErz
      • Linux and Mac are secure and don't have any of these problems.

        @WilErz ... "If you think other operating systems are more secure than Windows, you're simply ill informed. As Charlie Miller has pointed out, Mac OS and Linux are at least as easy to hack as Windows, and probably easier."<br><br>Did you read at least part of the report? Windows was hacked because it could be hacked. They used 4 zero-day vectors to gain access and even escalate privileges.<br><br>If Stuxnet did not find Windows, it exited. Linux is not affected.<br><br>My personal experience backs that up. There are no security problems with Linux. I've used it every day for 9 years with no AV and nothing happens. I don't do anything special at all. I visit whatever site I want to, click on any attachment without fear of becoming infected. Infected is not an option with Linux. You have to use it to see it, if you don't use it, you are going to be looking at it as if it were Windows.<br><br>ZDNet spews anit-Linux propaganda all the time and I think, by your statements, you have succumb to their advanced trickery.<br><br>If you feel differently, tell me what Linux you have used and how you have become infected. Really, because some of the statements made here by MS shills about Linux are accusations conforming to Windows operation and failures, proving the author has no experience with Linux. You don't see posts from Linux uses complaining about infections.<br><br>If any government is dumb enough to use Windows, then they deserve to be hacked into. It's just a given. That's a proven fact with Stuxnet. Based on what I've seen of porting programs to run on Linux, it would be with no difficulty that the Siemens equipment could interface with Linux. It would be a vast improvement in terms of stability and security.<br><br>If the US infrastructure is controlled by Windows, we are in deep trouble. Stuxnet-like issues could easily damage our grid, water and other resources. It just illustrates that Windows is the culprit and should be removed based solely on its inherent insecurity.<br><br>If the UK is worried about getting broken into or spied on, their first step to correct the problem should be to abandon Windows and go to Linux.
        Joe.Smetona
  • Good to see the UK government responding

    Beijing and Moscow have been waging an undeclared cyber war against the UK and US for years. It's about time London and Washington responded in kind.
    WilErz