- GCHQ, Britain’s signals intelligence agency, has been waging a cyber warfare campaign on ISIS, its director said in a speech.
- Agents disrupted and destroyed ISIS equipment and networks, making it “almost impossible” to operate.
- The attacks helped block propaganda, and also disrupted ISIS’s reaction to attacks from coalition forces like the RAF, US Air Force and Iraqi army.
- Anti-ISIS operations are the first time Britain has used cyber warfare in combination with military force.
British intelligence agents waged a cyber campaign against ISIS that made it “almost impossible” for them to coordinate their military efforts or communicate online, the head of GCHQ has revealed.
The UK government’s secretive listening agency disrupted the terror group’s online activity and destroyed their networks, GCHQ chief Jeremy Fleming told a cyber security conference in Manchester on Thursday.
He said it was the first time the UK had used its offensive cyber capabilities in concert with conventional military force.
Referring to ISIS by the alternative name of Daesh, Fleming said, according to The Times newspaper:
“Much of this is too sensitive to talk about in detail, but I can tell you that GCHQ, in partnership with the Ministry of Defence, has conducted a major offensive cyber-campaign against Daesh.
“These operations have made a significant contribution to coalition efforts to suppress Daesh propaganda, hindered their ability to co-ordinate attacks, and protected coalition forces on the battlefield.”
GCHQ’s attacks included disrupting specific online activities or users, and destroying equipment and networks, he said.
- Ministry of Defence
Fleming said: “In 2017 there were times when Daesh found it almost impossible to spread their hate online, to use their normal channels to spread their rhetoric, or trust their publications.”
He added that the effect of GCHQ’s cyberattacks are not permanent, as ISIS militants eventually figure out how to evade further attacks.
Britain’s Royal Air Force has been attacking ISIS targets in Syria alongside the US since 2015.