Islamic State (IS) would like to carry out major cyber attacks on British targets including hospitals and air traffic control centres, George Osborne is expected to warn today.
IS militants do not yet have the capability to carry out serious cyber attacks, but they “want it, and are doing their best to build it”, according to the chancellor, who plans to double government spending on cyber security to £1.9bn by 2020.
In a speech at GCHQ today, Osborne is expected to say: “Isil are already using the internet for hideous propaganda purposes; for radicalisation, for operational planning too.
“They have not been able to use it to kill people yet by attacking our infrastructure through cyber attack. They do not yet have that capability. But we know they want it, and are doing their best to build it.
“At a time when so many others are using the internet to enhance freedom and give expression to liberal values and creativity, they are using it for evil.”
The prime minister announced last night that British special forces, including the SAS, will get an extra £2bn, to be spent not on recruitment but on new weapons and vehicles, including helicopters.
Cameron, speaking at the Lord Mayor’s banquet in the City of London, vowed to “defeat the poisonous narrative” of the extremists, which he said causes “evil”.
The increased spending, which will also be used for protective equipment and communication systems, is part of a raft of measures Cameron intends to use in order to tackle what he last night called “an epidemic” of extremism, reports Sky News.
Meanwhile, an annual study by the Institute for Economics and Peace has shown that the number of people killed in acts of terrorism rose by 45 per cent in 2014, compared with the previous year.
Nigerian Islamist terror group Boko Haram and IS were jointly responsible for 51 per cent of these 32,658 killings. Sky News notes that around 78 per cent of the deaths occurred in Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Syria or Iraq.