BRITAIN has developed an armoury of first strike cyber-weapons to to counter the threat from computer hackers – and is ready to use them pre-emptively.
Foreign Secretary William Hague says the British Government is investing heavily in new deterrents but could not guarantee they would be sufficient in repelling cyber attacks.
He said: “We will defend ourselves in every way we can, not only to deflect but to prevent attacks that we know are taking place.
“We are trying to prevent an arms race in cyberspace. Given that the internet changes every day and billions more people will have access to it over the coming years, the potential for that arms race to grow and go out of control is enormous.
“There is no 100 per cent defence against this, just as there isn't against any other form of attack. We have to defend critical national infrastructure. We have to defend national security. We have to defend our entire commercial and economic system.
“Of course we are very determined that such major attacks will not get through — this is the reason for our heavy investment. But you now have to assume that they will be attempted."
The Government is investing an extra £650 million to develop deterrents to hostile viruses and hackers.
The move comes after a defence review ranked the threat of cyber attacks Tier One.
Senior officials from more than 60 nations and experts from internet companies are due to meet in London next month to discuss the cyber threat and draw up a coordinate plan to counter it.