UK reportedly preparing for a Russian-backed cyberattack

Tensions have intensified since this weekend’s strikes on Syria.

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SIMON DAWSON via Getty Images
SIMON DAWSON via Getty Images

As tensions between the UK and Russia continue to mount, both sides appear to be bolstering themselves for retaliatory cyberattacks. The Times reports that Prime Minister Theresa May has been receiving intelligence risk assessments regarding a potential Russia-based cyberattack that might result in the release of embarrassing or compromising information about UK ministers, members of parliament and others. Unnamed security sources told The Times that in the case of an attack on UK infrastructure, British officials were prepared to launch their own cyberattack against Russia.

British intelligence officials are on the alert for such an attack that may serve as retaliation for both the UK response to a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter as well as this weekend's strikes on Syrian chemical weapon storage facilities, development centers and bunkers -- in which the US, France and the UK all participated.

Intelligence sources told The Times that British politicians could be singled out in a Russian attack and that the nation's cyber-intelligence agency and the Ministry of Defense were prepared to retaliate "proportionately." "It wouldn't be impossible that they get through in some way that really hurts us. If they aggressively come after us, we will certainly have the ability to do some stuff to them. But unlike Russia, we abide by the law, so anything we do would be proportionately done," said one source. Another added, "They're more likely to revert to targeted information and try and cause as much embarrassment and chaos as possible."

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