British spies are developing an offensive cyber capability to attack terrorists, hackers and rogue states, Finance Minister George Osborne said on Tuesday after warning Islamic State wanted to launch deadly cyber attacks of their own.
Osborne said Islamic State fighters were trying to develop the ability to attack Britain's infrastructure such as hospitals and air traffic control systems with potentially lethal consequences.
In response to this threat and others, Britain was creating its own offensive cyber capability so spies could launch counter attacks, he said.
"ISIL's [Islamic State] murderous brutality has a strong digital element. 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. Let's be clear - ISIL are already using the internet for hideous propaganda purposes, for radicalization, for operational planning, too," Osborne said in a speech at Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the country's eavesdropping agency.
He said Friday's attacks in Paris, which killed at least 129 people and were claimed by Islamic State, had underscored the need to improve Britain's protection against electronic attack.