After Anonymous, UK threatens ISIS with cyberattack

UK threatens a cyber attack on ISIS
UK threatens a cyber attack on ISIS

Offense might just be the best form of defense when it comes to tackling the so-called Islamic State's plan to mount a computer hacking campaign against the West, says U.K. Finance Minister George Osborne.

Osborne said that ISIS' "murderous brutality" has a strong digital element and warned that banks, cars, the military and schools are all potential targets.

"(Islamic State is) already using the internet for hideous propaganda purposes; for radicalization, for operational planning too," he said at a speech at the UK's government communications headquarters.

"They have not been able to use it to kill people yet by attacking our infrastructure through cyberattack. They do not yet have that capability. But we know they want it, and are doing their best to build it."

Militant Islamist fighters parade on military vehicles along the streets of northern Raqqa province, June 30, 2014.
FBI investigating Central Command Twitter hack

Osborne spoke of a "malign scope" of the U.K's adversaries' goals and a "warped sophistication" and "frenetic activity."

"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."

Announcing that the country would double funding to fight cybercrime to £1.9 billion ($2.9 billion) a year by 2020, Osborne said that the U.K., would establish a deterrent by making sure that whoever attacks the country would know it is able to hit back.

"We need not just to defend ourselves against attacks, but rather to dissuade people and states from targeting us in the first place," he said.

An image from the video posted on YouTube, purported to be from Anonymous.
'Anonymous' hackers declare war on Islamic State

"We need to destroy the idea that there is impunity in cyberspace....we need those who would harm us to know that we will defend ourselves robustly. And that we have the means to do so."

His comments follow the fatal attacks in Paris last Friday which the terror group have claimed responsibility for. A Western alliance of France and the U.S. has ramped up the bombing of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and have reportedly extended an olive branch to Russia to join their coalition.

The global fight against ISIS has also caught the eye of hacker group Anonymous who apparently responded to the attacks by posting a video declaration of war over the weekend.

MariuszBlach | Getty Images

In the as-yet-unverified video, posted on YouTube, a spokesperson wearing the group's signature Guy Fawkes mask, said the group of hackers would use its expertize to wage "war" on the militant group and said it should expect "massive cyberattacks."

Responding to Osborne's speech on Tuesday, Kevin Bocek, the vice president of security and strategy at cybersecurity company Venafi, said that there is a clear and present danger that terrorists will hijack parts of the internet.

"Even more worryingly (they could) use the internet to take control of physical assets ranging from cars to planes to power plants and even the slew of devices that are now starting to control our homes," he said in an emailed statement to CNBC.

Osborne highlighted Tuesday that the U.K. government communications headquarters (GCHQ) dealt with 100 cyber national security incidents per month during the summer of 2014. He added that the figure had grown to 200 a month this summer.