UK Foreign Secretary Raab says Russia & China only use cyber capabilities to ‘sabotage & steal’, West uses its powers for ‘good’

UK Foreign Secretary Raab says Russia & China only use cyber capabilities to ‘sabotage & steal’, West uses its powers for ‘good’
Fecha de publicación: 
12 May 2021
Imagen principal: 
The modern fight against cybercrime is nothing but a clash between the West – a global “force for good” – and “authoritarian regimes” like Moscow and Beijing that seek to “ransom” the world, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab claims.

Most cybercrime activities usually involve theft or extortion as a motive, but that doesn’t mean such offenses just happen at “random,” Raab said, during a speech at the National Cyber Security Centre’s CYBERUK conference.

The foreign secretary believes the “hostile state actors and criminal gangs” behind such attacks wish nothing more than to “undermine the very foundations of our democracy.” 

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Raab then appeared to blame virtually all major cybercrimes on the usual Western culprits – “North Korea, Iran, Russia and China.” These states use digital technologies to “sabotage and steal, or to control and censor,” he declared.

He went on to describe the UK and its Western allies as a “force for good in the world” that always demonstrates “respect for international law” and uses cyber capabilities only for defending citizens and safeguarding “international collaboration.”

Raab also accused China and Russia of “sheltering criminal gangs” on their territories, instead of prosecuting them, but failed to mention any such groups that might be operating from within the UK or allied nations.

“We can see this clash between authoritarian and democratic states playing out very directly, right now, in cyberspace,” he said, referencing a string of cyber-attacks on Western nations that have been blamed on Moscow and Beijing.

Raab mentioned an attack on Microsoft in March that was blamed on a “state-sponsored group operating from China.” The 2017 NotPetya cyber-attack also made it into his speech, despite the fact that the virus in this case was also targeted at many companies in Russia itself, including the Rosneft oil giant.

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The foreign secretary set out a list of measures aimed at “reinforcing resilience around the government” and “building up our domestic defences,” in addition to some “offensive” cyber capabilities – which of course, will only be used for good.

Last year, the UK created its National Cyber Force, which, according to Raab, “conducts targeted offensive cyber operations to support the UK’s national security priorities.” He did not elaborate on the details of the agency’s activities, but said it can also be used in “military operations.”

He confirmed its use against the Islamic State (IS, former ISIS) terrorists in Syria and Iraq, and reiterated that the UK uses its powers for “good” while its adversaries use them to “ransack the international system.”

The UK has announced today the allocation of £22 million ($31 million) to build cybersecurity resilience in poorer countries in an attempt to “win hearts and minds across the world for our positive vision of cyberspace,” and to “prevent China, Russia, and others from filling the multilateral vacuum.”

Some of that money will be spent on creating a new cyber operations hub in Africa, working across Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Rwanda to facilitate joint operations against cybercrime together with the International Criminal Police Organization (known as Interpol), the UK Foreign Office said in a separate statement.

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Raab’s words come as Britain considers a new set of legislative acts aimed at fighting espionage and hostile-state activities, including in cyberspace. One, called the Counter-State Threats Bill, would provide the UK security forces with an array of tools to tackle the activities of foreign states, while another involves the creation of a new foreign agent registration scheme to fight espionage and prevent intellectual property theft.

British lawmakers are also expected to once again discuss the Telecommunications (Security) Bill, which would impose controls on software and equipment provided by “high-risk vendors,” such as China’s Huawei telecommunications giant. 

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