back to article We'll hack back at Russians, declare UK ministers in cyber-Blitz blitz

British ministers are stepping up their rhetoric on cyber warfare, with £22m to be splurged on embiggening an "offensive hacking" unit as Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt vowed to retaliate against Russian cyber-attacks. In a speech delivered this morning at Lancaster House, the preferred venue for big foreign policy set-pieces, …

  1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    We could harass the Russians during their own elections via VK and Facebook if they weren't always rigged in Putin's favour anyway. Alternatively, we could just do what the Americans do: Discover oil in Russia and send our freedom carriers over there to ravage them with freedom bombs and freedom troops and freedom, well, you get the idea.

    1. seven of five

      Sending the entire, glorious Royal Navy to liberate russian oilfields will certainly be an amusing sight. I´m not even convinced the russians would bother to obstruct the way instead of just waiting for winter, drinking at the sidelines in the meantime.

      1. Dave 15

        Sending in the fleet...

        Both rowing boats or just one at a time?

        The target practice ships have no aircraft since the moronic idiots inHMG scrapped the Harriers and bought the 'it might fly one day honest guv' F35s ... not that even if they do fly we could still use them, after all the servicing needs to be done in Italy and Turkey

        And then the anal accountants wouldnt allow us to have any bullets or missiles on any of the ships either as they cost money

        Top that off with any sailor stupid enough to try and fight being locked up for it and I think the Russians stand a very large chance of more injury from laughing

        1. user0

          Re: Sending in the fleet...

          Never Fear, that Hunt Jeremy is here. After his stellar tenure as Health secretary, which no one can deny is the reason the NHS is in such an ***incredible*** state now, he is here to work his magic on Defence. And be assured, that Hunt knows as much about Defence as he does about Public Healthcare. Hunt. Hunt. Huuuuuuunt!

    2. Tail Up

      Absolutely haven't got no clue about how to break up the vote counting. Ru

    3. Tail Up

      Yet haven't got no clue about how to try breaking into RU elections except with propaganda, which scarcely will give a desired/planned effect. VK'n'Facer - not funny. Breaking into counting votes? Russians have next to none poll machines.

      Bribe a counting commission member? Well, well, well... Perhaps, rails got cold long before on the way of a much bigger money cart already gone towards this destination point...

      Sorry, Tigra 07. Some news, probably.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      From what I've seen of BK you're going to struggle to influence the Russian voters. Knitting patterns, recipes, pictures of big fish and bears wouldn't seem to offer many opportunities. I don't know, perhaps lots of posts about apples might get a few votes for Yabloka*, but it's a push.

      *In Russia Apple is a political party, not a religion.

    5. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

      We could harass the Russians during their own elections

      Or we could spend $5b to get our favourite pro-eu politician elected, just like the US did in the 90s to get Boris Yeltsin elected.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Fading Silver badge

    Time to recycle one of the old ones......

    Dear Russia,

    Unfortunately due to cuts our cyber warfare division has been unable to produce any decent malware. If you could please delete all the files on all your servers, we would appreciate it.

    Thanks and jolly good show,

    GCHQ.

    1. Ima Ballsy
      Pint

      Re: Time to recycle one of the old ones......

      Ah... The good old *NIX Honour virus !!!!

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Time to recycle one of the old ones......

        Assuming the head of MI5/6 is still a (committed if slightly confused) communist KGB agent

        If they were to delete all MI5/6's files on their own machine - would that count as an attack on Russia ?

  3. Pete 2

    Sitting on defence

    > British ministers are stepping up their rhetoric on cyber warfare, with £22m to be splurged on embiggening an "offensive hacking" unit as Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt vowed to retaliate against Russian cyber-attacks.

    If it is anything like other "defence" procurements, they will end up with ultra-expensive computers to hack-back with .... but no keyboards.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sitting on defence

      Pete 2,

      How dare you impune the hard working Procurement Dept !!!

      Of course the computers would have keyboards ..... just the keys would be out of next years Budget so would not be able to be used yet !!!

      P.S. The keys would be mainly Hungarian as they are available for 30% off and we have been assured that Hungarian keys are just as functional as UK English keys

      [i.e. they also go up & down when pressed :) ]

      For the sake of a simple lookup table that could be printed off from MS Word, we could save many pounds which will be useful to add the the collection plate to get Planes, ammunition etc on our Aircraft Carriers.

      Perhaps it would be cheaper and more effective to simply translate the official statements announcing such ideas directly to Russian and posting them on various Russian language social media sites.

      This would keep the Russian Cyber-units entertained and while they are rolling on the floor laughing they cannot be attacking our infrastructure ...... simples !!! :)

  4. Anonymous Coward
  5. Semtex451 Silver badge

    Should we not be more concerned when the Norks are quiet?

  6. alain williams Silver badge

    Improve our security first

    Hitting Russian (or where-ever) targets as revenge or deterrence against future attacks is something that will be done after damage has been done in the UK.

    Far better would be to improve security at home: teach UK citizens to be aware of issues and be careful; penalise vendors that are sloppy and do not bother to look for security holes in what they sell, or quickly fix when vulnerabilities are found. This will mean admitting that 'government only encryption back doors' is a fantasy and will make it harder for UK spooks to snoop on us.

    Hitting back does not work if foreign ne'er-do-wells are not detected; improving UK security helps a lot here.

    It is not easy: most in the UK can't be bothered and think that they don't have to worry - if they screw up it might hurt their employer (so, what ? The still get paid at the end of the month), or if their bank account is hit they will winge until the bank refunds them.

    I am far more worried about bad security in Internet of Things (eg baby-cam remote hackable) than I am Huawei exfiltrating packets to China (packets that should be encrypted anyway).

    1. Dave 15

      Re: Improve our security first

      Now now, if the citizens improved their security then HMG and the yanks wouldnt be able to spy on them

      1. Tom Chiverton 1

        Re: Improve our security first

        See DNS-over-TLS "think of the children" a few months back.

  7. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    Is that legal under international laws to hack another country? And which twat in Whitehall thought it would be wise to publicly declare a cyberwar on a nation state which has proved to be better than yourself at cyber crime?

    1. David Shaw

      I had once saved a tweet or similar from a USian 5-star general who publicly declared that he wanted to bomb hackers, fight packets with exotherms

      it was vanished before I got a copy, and also , bearing in mind how the US Navy was always dominant in cyber training and cyber deployment, including recruiting all the RIF'ed sailors that could type, is there a particular phrase which renders the article quote "Forn Sec Jeremy Hunt vowed to retaliate" into the more accurate actualité of "vowed to retaliate first , before being attacked" as they've been doing that already for ages

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        @ David Shaw

        Your 5 star general was clearly a master of the deadly art of Llap Goch, the perfect art for jeremies to study.

        Penny Mordor is a lot scarier than Jeremy, she believes everything she says, even when kt is self contradictory rubbish.

      2. Cederic Bronze badge

        Maybe you missed last week's news from Israel - first item on https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/05/07/security_roundup/

    2. ST Silver badge

      > Is that legal under international laws to hack another country?

      Actually, yes.

      There are no international conventions on cyber-warfare. Because of that, there are no rules of engagement either.

      1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

        Re: The rest of the world should help them out

        Sending a missile into someone's home who's supposedly hacking you is covered however.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    lol

    How about just disconnecting from the world internet, and have Aussie-net . People can go back to buying porn magazines if they need anything more.

    1. ChrisElvidge

      Re: lol

      You don't need to disconnect from the world - just make all traffic go through a gateway where it can be scrutinised by GCHQ.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Access Keys All Too Oft Missing in Action

        Now there's a Novelty, ChrisElvidge.

        And what whenever Guaranteed Enhancing Gateways by GCHQ BetaTest Future Systems Operations Scrutinising Available Input .... for AIMetaDataBase Processing into Output ..... for Greater AI Universe Picture Shows

        With Virtual AI Pioneering Peer Plays. What you Give is Exactly what You Get.

        IT Certainly Makes Giving Everything Interesting :-)

        Be aware though, 'tis Natural Spooky Terrain for All Intel and Any Info that Effectively Leads Effortlessly Anywhere and Everywhere.

        One of those Holy Grail type tasks to ensure will always endure when Future AIDirections are Much More Heavenly than Hellish.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Access Keys All Too Oft Missing in Action

          How do you decide which words to capitalise? Genuinely curious.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Access Keys All Too Oft Missing in Action

            Is there a pattern?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Access Keys All Too Oft Missing in Action

            "How do you decide which words to capitalise? Genuinely curious."

            FYI:

            It is part of the 'Martian code' ....... the capitals denote when to move the next 'rotor' to the next character in the sequence.

            The rest you will have to work out yourself !!! :)

            P.S. You do 'know' the Martian Alphabet (or more correctly its Martian to English Transliteration), otherwise it will be a bit difficult !!!

            Hope that helps ;) :)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: lol

        @ChrisElvidge

        *

        1qHv09yf0U900QIZ1eVE0Nnz0u8$08s30mVZ1GDM

        0XWV08NW1qF41FIs13d80LQS0pwR0JVW0l8M06p$

        06r705J$1Vt00ZOs0kXd0a$a14801ScD0oA70nP=

        1RMw18ou0u$t04aG01j41TN91fay09MK19jC13uw

        10Bf14Jz1bgi1cDA0j9y1YaW0Ns20BnV1Nxh1qYH

        1KzC1WP20ZnV0ulb07EZ1Faf02L51gUi0q0W1f6L

        *

        The bad guys will be using their own cipher BEFORE the message enters the interweb. Some famous cipher messages remain secret after more than 100 years (c.f. Beale Papers). Scrutinise away!!

  9. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    FAIL

    What a surprise

    A politician with zero grasp of what he is spouting.

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: What a surprise

      Surely such a thing does not exist.

      </sarc>

    2. Kane Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: What a surprise

      "A politician with zero grasp of what he is spouting."

      Is that not the dictionary definition of a politician?

    3. DCdave
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: What a surprise

      He's see hacking on TV, it's that thing that involves typing lots of random commands, very fast. Suddenly, you're in.

  10. Matthew Anderson

    All sounds like a load of posturing to me. Why would you publicly announce this if not just part of a PR campaign? When I was younger I had this delusional respect for these people, now they just seem like kids playing at war but in control of our weapons systems and national security. I take it tapping submarine cables and hoovering up all the data doesn't count as hacking then? As if we are completely innocent...

  11. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    cc MOD [by Registered Post]

    "Cyber enemies think they can act with impunity. We must show them they can't. That we are ready to respond at a time and place of our choosing in any domain, not just the virtual world." ..... from Penny Mordaunt's prepared speech

    Penny,

    More than just a few who know how they can act so, would be wondering what's holding up the knock at the door and the ask to server what they can with impunity, and covered by a granting of rock solid immunities/memoranda of absolute understanding for future authorised programs/missions/excursions/call them what you will.

    I have no idea what Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt thinks he is able to do .... except bluster, of course. He's always been reliably full of that.

    It is a both a strategic and tactical blunder of titanic proportions to consider uncertain fight rather than creative engagement with clearly worrying forces and new sources of novel conflict. Such exercises Madness and Mayhem in the Changing Fields of CHAOS and Catastrophe and that is an Insane Option to Consider and Pimp and Pump as necessarily vital, whenever it is deadly.

  12. MonsieurTM

    Yet another attempt to give tax money to a load of louts, justified by not-news and no facts. Otherwise known as nepotism.

  13. Dave 15

    I would rather hear

    How we are going to tell the UN very impolitely to take its recent Chagos Islands vote

    We PAID for the islands now we are told to give it back... its like going into Tesco, paying for a loaf of bread and the copper outside saying you have to put it bback on the shelf

    Stuff them frankly, withdraw foreign aid from every country that voted in favour of this, ban all imports from them as well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I would rather hear

      Who did we pay precisely? Oh, we basically paid ourselves after we had taken the islands as part of the booty of the Napoleonic wars. That is to say, we paid £3 million compensation to the British colony of Mauritius.

      Eventually when Mauritius became independent and kicked up stink, we generously gave them a whole £650 000.

      We treated the islanders as merely an administrative inconvenience in the way of not having any pesky natives near a US base.

      So, rather unlike your example, it's like us going and stealing a Tescos. Then we give it to Morrisons, which we own. Then later on we give Morrisons some money to take it back. Then we sell off Morrisons. Then we say "Hey, we don't want all the stock in this Tescos, you can have it." And they ask for a restocking fee.

      But we still stole the Tescos in the first place.

      1. Cederic Bronze badge

        Re: I would rather hear

        Well who did the islanders steal the island from? They didn't evolve there, they were invaders too.

        I mean, it's all history.

        Anyway, what's Mauritius' claim on these islands in the first place? They're 2000km away. By that measure Madagascar and the Seychelles are also part of Mauritius.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Unfortunately with China opening new military bases across the Indian Ocean territory, I'd say the chances of the base at Diego Garcia being relinquished are receeding.

      @Cederic, I don't think it's an indigenous rights claim, just the fact that people were living there, who were forced to leave, without being directly compensated.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slight problem

    In the West, people who are really good with the more complicated aspects of computing can expect much better paid jobs than the security services can offer.

    In the RF, there are an awful lot of those people (pro rata to a population of 140 million) who cannot get well paid jobs and whose industries are sanctioned against exporting. Their best chance is a hacking job with an oligarch or the Kremlin.

    Spot the teensy problem. Are you going to start paying "cyber warriors" £100k and up?

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Slight problem and paying "cyber warriors" £100k and up? ..... Voyna i Mor

      Veteran cyber warriors need only a few seconds to recognise a worthy newbie, and a worthy newbie quickly realises who and/or what be veteran cyber warriors.

      All the real action and hot flash cash money is in the granting of funds to programs believed to be able to deliver the almighty advantageous and overwhelming. That has in the past, and most recently too, been the executive preserve and exclusive reserve of both public and private and pirate covert and clandestine operations. ESPecial Black Ops Territory.

      There whatever you want to aid delivery of agreed goods is freely provided thus guaranteeing the continuing supply of prime goods until no longer needed, or provided and. bettered with similar generous payment terms by A.N.Others.

      If one thinks in any way 0900 to 1700, Monday to Friday with weekends providing invaluable overtime for a weekly wage however great, one is going to be disappointing and disappointed and recognised as totally unfit for Future Greater IntelAIgent Games Purpose.

      What one is Feeding are Supernatural Passions Seeding Insatiable Desires.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What I find deeply ironic [aka boldfaced political bullshit] is that when the Reds deployed a Novichock nerve agent on UK sovereign soil [yes, that was a chemical weapon attack in Salisbury] what did the UK government do?

    Exactly?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >what did the UK government do?

      Asked its friends and trading partners in the Eu to impose Eu wide sanctions on Russia

      The question is what will it do next year ?

  16. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    So far the UK has not admitted to actually using its hacking capabilities against another country

    <cough> Belgium <cough>

  17. Dr.Flay

    £22 Million for adverts and meetings

    As ever our politicians think that saying they will throw a load of money away will change anything useful.

    We can be sure most of the money will disappear in meetings, greasing already greasy palms, and funding Capita to do another bang up job of marketing a life of happy hackers all having fun.

    GCHQ already have a problem attracting newbies. The past year we have seen many tie-ins with BBC shows to show the shiny friendly face of espionage.

    Ah I know ! They are going to lure IT students with promises of wealth !

    Being so brass-necked about hacking back at the drop of a hat, is a marvellous way to attract exactly that situation.

    Well done you prize prat, the challenge is now issued. I hope our best bods are on the case.

  18. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    Help out a veteran...

    Thank you, sir... Yeah, I was in the big war... WWW -- the Internet War...

  19. Any other name

    Public confidence

    Hunt continued: "Recent events demonstrate that our adversaries regard democratic elections as a key vulnerability of an open society. If cyber interference were to become commonplace, the danger is that authoritarian states would damage public confidence in the very fabric of democracy."

    Personaly, I find that seeing Jeremy or his boss expostulating on TV does it all by itself - no hacking by either authoritarian or democratically-inclined states is actually needed.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NATO must be " "ready to use our cyber capabilities to fight an enemy"

    Quote: "Only Islamic extremists in the Middle East have been publicly acknowledged as targets."

    *

    Really? Then what about those well known "enemies" of the UK in Belgian telecom? More here about the STASI in Cheltenham:

    - https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/21/british-spies-hacked-into-belgacom-on-ministers-orders-claims-report

    *

    Q: How do you tell when a politician is lying?

    A: When his (or her) lips are moving!

  21. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    BLIGHTY BLOOPERS IN ALMIGHTY WHOPPERS

    Ignorant ill-informed decisions in continuing support to failing programs with rearguard actions in defence of the indefensible which always reveals the catastrophically vulnerable driver ...... which then becomes exploitable and/or expendable ....... with a fundamental change of force and source delivering ideally overwhelmingly advantageous mutually beneficial leads or which primes the extinguishing of sub-prime perverted and subversive competition and corrupted opposition, is something of an enigmatic conundrum for spooks and 77 Brigade types ....... for it, the novel and to be kept secret information, quite naturally rightly challenges their base intelligence preconceptions/early initial programming with a different and/or disruptive intelligence classified and restricted because of its powerful effect.

    It is a simple inexcusable fact which is inescapable for success in any of the vital and virile and viral fields of future virtualised endeavour which present an altogether much bigger picture show for media production and remote base realisation, ...... Garbage In/Garbage Out has BullShit Faking IT and that's a road to nowhere and not worth travelling.

  22. iLurker

    But...

    ... is there anything in Russia worth hacking for ?

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: But... Nothing

      ... is there anything in Russia worth hacking for ? .... iLurker

      Top of the list, iLurker, ... Mothers Russia and their Delightful Daughters.

      They can be disarmingly captivating to an infinite degree. :-)

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