Speaking to intelligence officials at GCHQ this morning, Osborne said that while British authorities are already monitoring cyber threats against 450 companies across the aerospace, defence, energy, water, finance, transport and telecoms sectors, the government will do more to protect firms and individuals from the threats posed by the so-called Islamic State (IS) and other terrorist groups.
“The starting point must be that every British company is a target, that every British network will be attacked, and that cyber crime is not something that happens to other people,” Osborne said.
“ISIL are already using the Internet for hideous propaganda purposes; for radicalisation, for operational planning too,” he added. “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.”
Osborne’s speech came after Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement yesterday that the government would hire an additional 1,900 security specialists at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ following the coordinated attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people last week.
Osborne also said this morning that he has reached provision agreements for spending cuts in 11 Whitehall departments ahead of next week’s Comprehensive Spending Review. He said that the department for energy and climate change, the department for work and pensions, HM Revenue and Customs, the cabinet office and the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland offices would see their real-terms spending reduced by 24 per cent by the end of the decade.