Specialist cyber force to be launched

The National Cyber Force, which will target hostile states and terror groups, is due to be launched later in the spring.

Following months of delays between the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ, the specialist cyber force of hackers will consist of roughly 500 personnel. It has been rumoured to have been in the works for a number of years and will consolidate some existing capabilities from both GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence, as well as develop new ones.

However, further details are lacking. Officials argue that much of what the UK’s offensive hackers could do should remain classified, but experts in the cyber industry have said that the lack of clarity makes it difficult to discuss the appropriate limits of cyber warfare in a democracy and what sort of attacks or disruptive measures can be considered legitimate, particularly if there is a strong military dimension to its work.

James Sullivan, the head of cyber research at defence thinktank Rusi, said: “There has been limited public debate on the purpose and ethics of offensive cyber, the circumstances under which it might be used, and the kinds of effects that might and might not be acceptable.”

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