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GCHQ: Cyber threats ‘as serious as terrorism’

Jeremy Fleming, the new director of GCHQ, has warned that online threats are a bigger national risk than terrorism.

Appointed in March this year, Fleming said that GCHQ is using its funding and staff to turn itself into a “cyber-organisation” in a bid to combat the increasing cyber threat to national security. .

Our task in GCHQ is to help make sure that the UK benefits from this technological revolution, by protecting the nation from those who want to use the internet to cause harm. We all derive great benefit from the ease and speed of connecting across the planet and from the additional security provided by default encryption,” he wrote in the Telegraph.

“But hostile states, terrorists and criminals use those same features – instant connectivity and encrypted communications – to undermine our national security, attack our interests and, increasingly, commit crime.”

The mention of encryption vectors into repeated government attempts by successive home secretaries to strong-arm technology companies into compromising online communication tools. 

Fleming continued: “GCHQ’s role has always been to collect and use intelligence to disrupt, divert and frustrate our adversaries. We’ve been doing this since 1919 and we’re very good at it. But we cannot afford to stand still.

“The government’s investment in a bigger GCHQ gives us a chance to recruit the brightest and best from across our society – as the threat becomes more diverse, so must the workforce that tackles it,” he added.

“We’re using much of that funding to make GCHQ a cyber organisation as well as an intelligence and counter-terrorism one. We have a longstanding mission to keep sensitive information and systems secure.

“This has a distinguished history, notably in protecting our own secrets in wartime. But it too often felt like the poor relation. Our new mandate, to help make the UK the best place to live and do business online, has transformed that perception.” 

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