back to article Brit Attorney General: Nation state cyber attack is an act of war

Hostile states targeting essential infrastructure and services in Britain should be dealt with in the same way as any other attack against the nation, the UK Attorney General said today. Speaking at the Chatham House think-tank on the topic of international law in cyber space, Jeremy Wright QC MP, said: The targeting of …

  1. JimmyPage
    Stop

    And non-nation state cyber attack ?

    like Facebook or Googles data slurp of UK citizens ?

    Presumably that's "OK" ?

    1. LeahroyNake Silver badge

      Re: And non-nation state cyber attack ?

      Well I doubt the US will allow the UK to extradite Zuck so I guess it's up to the EU to sort that one out.

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    So STUXNET *was* an act of war by this standard.

    Actions have consequences.

    Who knew?

    Be careful what legal precedents you set.

    1. Grikath

      Re: So STUXNET *was* an act of war by this standard.

      Ah no.... That's the Good Guys™ doing it, then it's allowed because Good Guys™.

      Repeat after me, Citizen: Us. Good. Them. Bad!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So STUXNET *was* an act of war by this standard.

        Stuxnet was a US/Israeli effort, so not really relevant to the UK's Attorney General.

        What might be pertinent is the UK government's use of SCL Group (of Cambridge Analytica infamy) to interfere in other countries' affairs. Who did we declare war on through SCL?

        1. The_Idiot

          Re: So STUXNET *was* an act of war by this standard.

          @Ledswinger

          "Stuxnet was a US/Israeli effort, so not really relevant to the UK's Attorney General."

          Er - let's try that with some other words, shall we? How about Poland?

          "The German invasion of Poland was a German/Polish issue, so not really relevant to the UK (or anyone else)."

          Wow. I guess the Allies messed up - that whole WWII thing was a mistake!

          For Country A to declare Action 1 by Country B against Country C an 'act of war' or other diplomatic statement is not, I would suggest, 'not really relevant', but part of the mechanism by which we can all help prevent (or in some circumstances end) conflict. But then - I'm an Idiot.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So STUXNET *was* an act of war by this standard.

            Er - let's try that with some other words, shall we? How about Poland?

            Britain pledged to support Poland's sovereignty in March 1939. I don't recall any such promises to Iran of late, do you?

            But then - I'm an Idiot.

            Moi? I said nothing.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. c1ue

    Oh good

    I await the self naming and shaming for the creators of Stuxnet.

    *crickets*

    No doubt, "good" hackers - I.e. your own - have different rules.

  4. revenant

    A question of attribution

    Assuming that a cyber attack could be considered serious enough for Article 51 to come into play (and assuming you can get around the awkward fact that it refers specifically to 'armed attack'), there is still the issue of whodunnit.

    It's not like cyber attackers wear uniforms or leave debris that is clearly marked 'made in <xxx>', so we must be very careful in actually following through on what the Attorney General is stating, else we could turn out to be the instigators of an act of war, having been suckered by an enemy (or bad friend) into attacking an innocent party.

    It might boil down to cyber investigators having the balls to say to the Government/MoD that, actually, we can't be certain. We need certainty, not 'high probability'.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: A question of attribution

      Britain certainly cyber-attacked our NATO ally Belgium

      Britain must now come to plucky little Belgium's aid and attack Britain

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...and not just listening!

    https://www.redmolotov.com/catalogue/tshirts/all/gchq-always-listening-tshirt.html

  6. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Sounds like a good way...

    ...to shutter many forms of IoT development.

  7. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Some more mindless and not thought through posturing

    Hostile states targeting essential infrastructure and services in Britain should be dealt with in the same way as any other attack against the nation, the UK Attorney General said today.

    So where does it put sanctions against an essential infrastructure and services company in a foreign state which are specifically designed to cripple that nation infrastructure? How it is any different?

    You have to be very careful in what do you declare an act of war as the other side may apply a reciprocal definition which when nuclear armed nation states are involved is mostly to the benefit of cockroaches.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Some more mindless and not thought through posturing

      Hostile states targeting essential infrastructure and services in Britain should be dealt with in the same way as any other attack against the nation,

      Richard Branson in a bunker chewing on his cyanide capsule?

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Holmes

    Imagine a future of the "election interference" bullshit in your face ... forever

    Hillary's excuse has become the Emmanuel Goldstein of the politshits unsure about what to dish out this evening. Using the THREAT TO DEMOCRACY "15 seconds of information", they can keep the populace excited and remind them every other day that BAD PEOPLE are influencing THEIR DUHMOCKRACY BUTOON BUSHING and they don't even notice.

    And let's face it - when America wants to influence elections, they just make loud proclamations on radio, then have the inconvenient guy beaten to death by local muscle. Definitely beats faffing around with Facebook & Twitter.

    Talking about making stuff up, yesterday Pompeo was talking about an Iranian assassination ops in Europe, something that nobody has heard of since the 80s. My bet is on the US delusionally trying a repeat of the Ghaddafi theater on Iran by July. Maybe we will see Nikky talk shit about Ayatollahs distributing Viagra to the Revolutionary Guard to keep it up during mass rape, too. Then a crazed general comes in and holds up vials of white powder as proof of the mushroom cloud.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Imagine a future of the "election interference" bullshit in your face ... forever

      yesterday Pompeo was talking about an Iranian assassination ops in Europe, something that nobody has heard of since the 80s

      He probably misread a report about one of his department's own operations in his previous job.

      On a more serious note, we live in strange times. I do remember the days when there were no News in Izvestia and no Truth in Pravda. It is really strange that at present the amount of lies per line in their press and lies per minute on their TV is lower than in ours.

      1. c1ue

        Re: Imagine a future of the "election interference" bullshit in your face ... forever

        Actually, Pravda is now Musk-ian: https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musks-latest-proposal-a-website-named-pravda-to-rate-media-credibility-1527116737

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But what is a Nation State launches a cyber attack on its own inmates ?

    Is that an act of Civil War ?

  10. John Savard Silver badge

    Truth

    Just because the bad actors generally have nuclear weapons, and even if not, military action, which so often involves loss of human lives, is not warranted, it certainly is true that if a foreign government engages in acts that are injurious to the lives or property of people of a free country - it deserves to face consequences, at least in theory.

    Given that the Trump presidency may end up taking the United States off-line, the United Kingdom really should be considering expanding its nuclear capability so that it can keep Russia and China at bay all by itself, perhaps with some help from the French. So don't be too hard on your politicians if they seem to have unwarranted visions of glory. The free people of the world may be depending on you to rise to the occasion.

    Just don't pin your hopes on discovering a source of Pinot Grand Fenwick.

  11. Budva

    Ohhhh really?

    Ohhhh really?

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/06/22/cyber_warfare_future_stuxnet/

  12. Bitsminer

    Imminent threats

    "or present an imminent threat of"

    Well. Google "phases of cyber" and you will find 5, 6 or even 7 phases. Let's take the shortest:

    1. Reconnaissance

    2. Scan

    3. Exploit

    4. Persist

    5. Exfiltration

    Item 6 would be "echo 1 > /sys/dev/reactor/meltdown/begin"

    Item 4 would be evidence of an imminent threat. Would the Minister nuke the russkies for installing a backdoor?

    The difference between cyber espionage and active cyber ops is a keystroke. Deal with it.

  13. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    What exactly constitutes war?

    I consider that the Iranian regime has been at war with the US since invading our territory (the embassy) and taking hostages. They have certainly continued to carry out acts of war (including the attack on the USS Cole) directly and through intermediaries.

    It has not been convenient for the US to respond during this time with its full military might. However, the development of nuclear weapons has been considered a red-line threat. Stuxnet was certainly an act of war. Entirely justified, and not because the US are the good guys, but because the Iranian regime continues to pledge to bring the end of the world with their bomb. I believe them. I cannot afford to disbelieve them and be wrong.

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