U.K. to Build Cyber Attack Forces to Take On ISIS

British Finance Minister George Osborne said on Tuesday that Britain was building an elite cyber force to take down ISIS fighters, hackers, and hostile powers.

Osborne went on to tell Reuters that the Islamic State is trying to develop a way to attack British infrastructure including power networks, air traffic control systems, and hospital.

“The stakes could hardly be higher – if our electricity supply, or our air traffic control, or our hospitals were successfully attacked online, the impact could be measured not just in terms of economic damage but of lives lost,” he told CNBC News.

As a response, he stated that Britain would fight fire with fire by developing their own cyber attack force.

“We will defend ourselves. But we will also take the fight to you,” Osborne said in a speech at Britain’s GCHQ eavesdropping agency.

“We are building our own offensive cyber capability – a dedicated ability to counter-attack in cyberspace. When we talk about tackling (Islamic State), that means tackling their cyber threat as well as their guns, bombs and knives.”

The cyber attack force will be headed jointly by GCHQ – Britain’s spy agency – and the Defence Ministry. They will target criminal gangs, individual hackers, militant groups, and hostile powers.

Public spending on cyber security will be doubled by 2020 Osborne told Reuter, raising the budget to almost $3 billion. GCHQ has already been monitoring various cyber threats as cyber security issues have doubled to 200 a month since last year. The new cyber security plan also includes training coders, blocking bad URLs, and fending off malware attacks.

Currently, ISIS has been using the Internet to spread its propaganda and lead more people to their radical cause.

“They have not been able to use it to kill people yet by attacking our infrastructure through cyber attack,” Osborne added. “But we know they want it and are doing their best to build it.”

The global cyber war against ISIS has also caught the attention of the hacktivist group “Anonymous” who released a video earlier this week declaring cyber war on the Islamic State.

Edward Snowden Claims Smartphones can Easily be Hacked

Whistleblower Edward Snowden rocked the world when he called out the actions of the NSA, but he now has new revolutionary information: UK spy agency GCHQ has the ability to hack into smartphones with encrypted text messages, and the owner would never know.

In an interview with the BBC’s Panorama program, he stated that the GCHQ “invested heavily” into technology that allows them to hack smartphones belonging to the public. The agency could gain access to the phones to take pictures and listen in to conversations.

“They want to own your phone instead of you,” he explained.

Snowden went on to explain that the GCHQ had a collection of secret intercept capabilities called a “Smurf Suite,” named after the cartoon series. Each “Smurf” controls a different aspect of the phone.

“Dreamy Smurf is the power management tool which means turning your phone on and off with you knowing,” he said.

“Nosey Smurf is the ‘hot mic’ tool. For example if it’s in your pocket, [GCHQ] can turn the microphone on and listen to everything that’s going on around you – even if your phone is switched off because they’ve got the other tools for turning it on.

“Tracker Smurf is a geo-location tool which allows [GCHQ] to follow you with a greater precision than you would get from the typical triangulation of cellphone towers.”

In order to hack the smartphone, the GCHQ sends a simple text message that is hidden from the owner. That text contains an exploit that allows the agency to control the software of the smartphone.

“You paid for [the phone] but whoever controls the software owns the phone,” Snowden added.